Raven-Symoné, Oprah, and What it Means to be (African) American

Photo credit: Oprah: Where Are They Now?

Last week entertainer Raven-Symoné appeared on Oprah: Where Are They Now?and proudly stated that she was in “an amazing, happy relationship” with a woman, yet what she followed up with turned out to be more surprising for some. After telling Oprah that she did not want to be labeled “gay” yet simply as “a human who loves humans,” Raven continued: “I’m tired of being labeled. I’m an American. I’m not an African American; I’m an American.”
As Oprah shook her head, she responded, “Oh girl, don’t set up the Twitter on fire.” She then threw up her hands and yelled jokingly, “Stop, stop, stop the tape right now!” Twitter and the blogosphere certainly did blow up in response to Raven’s remarks, which many felt were blasphemous, not regarding her sexual orientation, but because she rejected being identified as African American.
Everyone has the right to identify as they please, and if she wants to, Raven-Symoné can certainly refuse labels surrounding her sexuality and ethnoracial background. However, she didn’t dodge all labels as rigorously as she claimed, for Raven still enthusiastically and without hesitation embraced the national label of “American.”
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