October 7, 2014

In Defense of Raven Symoné

Typically, I avoid keeping abreast of what wealthy, famous people are doing and going though. ‘Call me unfeeling, but I just don't care much about their problems because most of them can be fixed with the resources they have. The rest of us are not so fortunate.

But the social media uproar about Raven Symoné's comments underscores an important cultural race practice in America--naming. So I took the bait and watched Raven's interview with Oprah because I wanted to know what she said that has led to the large amount of push-back.
Oh my gawd, from the posts I've read you'd have thought that ol' gurl said that she ain't black and doesn't want to be associated with those people or some such talk like that. Dang, she didn't say anything even close to that!

Maybe people would be less up-in-arms if Raven had not said "I am not African American, I am American," but instead had said "I am not African American, I am human," which is what I believe she is actually trying to communicate. But who knows, maybe people would not get that either.

Something that a friend posted on Facebook this morning is poignant and succinctly sums up the peculiar practice of racial badge wearing required of non-Europeans in America: ""I've been traveling a bit lately to other countries. When people hear me and/or my family speak, they say "You are AMERICAN!" ...not "African-American." That label is used ONLY IN AMERICA. *ijs*"" ~Bert Durant (emphasis his)

Raven is clear about rejecting other language that also labels her as alternative to a default or norm. She doesn't want to be labeled "gay" either.

In her interview with Oprah, Raven is saying that America fails at being the colorblind society that it should be and that in her personal life she is resisting the system of unequal treatment designed to oppress people of color—labeling being a key factor in perpetuating such oppression.

Shouldn't resistance to "othering" language that sets us apart by our skin, culture, or sexual preference be considered revolutionary?


  1. Since August 2013 I have lived in the United Arab Emirates with my wife and 16yo daughter. We have seen, and have met dark-skinned Arabs and white-skinned Arabs. They are all “EMIRATIS”. Many have chosen to marry. They are not labeled as an “inter-racial couple”. They are simply a "married couple". They are “EMIRATIS”.

    When we fill out documents during medical or dental treatment, there is no entry for “Race” …only “Nationality”. We are AMERICANS. In fact, on our passports there is no reference to “Race” …only ”Nationality”, where in all caps it is boldly printed “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”. We are AMERICANS!!!

    1. Absolutely, I can appreciate your experience. That is how it was while I was living in Morocco, no mention of race, only nationality.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...