What Raven Really Meant

Thursday, October 09, 2014 Written by 
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On Sunday night (October 5) Raven-Symone was interviewed by Oprah for a special titled, "Where Are They Now?" which debuted on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). A lot of black people are mad about a comment Raven made regarding her identity. Oprah addresses the tweet Raven wrote over a year ago in support of the gay marriage act passing through the U.S. Supreme Court. The tweet reads, "I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you." 


Oprah asks if that was Raven's way of "coming out". Raven expresses that while her tweet was a general cry of excitement for the LGBT community, she is currently In a happy and healthy relationship with a woman. Raven exclaimed, however, that she doesn't like the label of "gay" or labels in general.


Here's where it gets messy. In the list of labels she dislikes, she includes African-American. "I'm an American. I'm not African-American, I'm American."  Black Twitter went rampant with rebuttal tweets claiming Raven is adding to the list of black celebrities claiming they are the "new black". 


This new "philosophy" started with a comment by Pharell Williams earlier this year. Also in an interview with Oprah, Pharell says: the "new black" doesn't blame other races for our issues. The "new black" dreams and realizes that it's not pigmentation; it's a mentality. And it's either going to work for you or against you. And you've got to pick the side you're going to be on. People of color are upset (and I would argue rightfully so) that Pharell seems to think anyone can get ahead and your race has nothing to do with it.


However, I don't think that is what Raven is getting at. She goes on to explain that what she means is she doesn't have knowledge about her specific African roots. She's from Louisiana and her values, beliefs, and identity primarily come from America. I can't get behind a "post-racial-I-don't-see-color" mentality but I can understand what Raven was trying to say.


I grew up in America. For better or for worse, America has shaped my identity. I believe in individualism, independence, and self-sufficiency. These traits are definite American and individualistic culture ideologies. I am Black American, not African-American. I have no knowledge about African culture, ideologies or languages. If I were to go to Kenya or Sierra Leone tomorrow, I would not fit in.


We might have similar skin tones but that's about where the similarities stop. That is the point I believe Raven was trying to make


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