Raven-Symoné rejects gay, African-American labels

Twenty-eight-year-old, Raven-Symoné has displayed quite a strong sense of self during her “Where Are They Now?” interview with Oprah Winfrey recently and may have given us something to pause and think about.

Raven, when asked about her alleged ‘coming out’ tweet (“I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you”) in August 2014, following the Supreme Court rule that the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, replied: “That was my way of saying I’m proud of the country. But, I will say that I’m in an amazing, happy relationship with my partner. A woman.”

Symoné went on to add, “I don’t want to be labeled gay. I want to be labeled a human who loves humans.”

Going even further, Raven stated quite pointedly that she does not want to be labeled in any aspect of her life. “I’m tired of being labeled,” said the former Cosby star. “I’m an American. I’m not an African-American, I’m an American.”

This statement seemed to have caught Oprah off guard as she shifted in her chair and lightly cautioned – “Oh, girl, don’t set up the Twitter on fire. Oh, my lord. What did you just say?”

Winfrey’s Twitter predictions were right on the money, though there was no fire. Raven-Symoné is currently trending on Twitter, with many taking to the social media site to say their piece on the audacity of Symoné’s lack of interest in self-identification and labels.

However, looking at the point that one may assume Raven is trying to make – she is not denouncing these aspects of herself, “I am proud to be who I am and what I am.” It’s that she does not want to be labeled or identified as just a particular aspect of her persona.

And while some people may have an issue with Symoné’s views, does she not make an interesting point?

After being asked to expound on why she does not want to be labeled an African-American, Raven said: “I mean, I don’t know where my roots go to. I don’t know how far back they go … I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from, but I do know that my roots are in Louisiana. I’m an American. And that’s a colorless person.”

Upon Winfrey’s light warning that Symoné is “going to get a lot of flak” for not identifying herself with the sub-group, the young entrepreneur simply raised her hands and reiterated defiantly.

“I don’t label myself,” she said, adding: “I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasians. I connect with Asians. I connect with Black. I connect with Indians. I connect with each culture.”

“You are a melting pot in one body,” Oprah concluded.

“Aren’t we all?” Symoné asked. “Isn’t that what America’s supposed to be?”

Raven makes a thought-provoking point that America is a melting pot of different cultures and identities – so why label and focus on separatism? Does that not, in itself, further separate cultures and sub-groups, and add to the growing fire of inequality? We have seen over and over what labels do, they separate us as human beings – causing distrust and division, and even fuelling hate.

America is filled with immigrants of years past, and present – and in truth, most people’s ancestors can be traced back to some other country somewhere in the world. Therefore, why should it be odd or offensive that Symoné wishes to be identified as an American rather than a particular sub-group?

With that said, Raven’s strong sense of self has no doubt played a role in her consistent success from childhood to adulthood. And even the talk show queen was impressed, as she took to Twitter after her sit-down with Symoné and wrote: “She’s so self-aware and comfortable in her own skin. Love that!”