Raven-Symoné Reflects on Controversial Remark: 'I'm Not African-American, I'm American'

The backlash Raven-Symoné received after an interview with Oprah Winfrey 10 years ago still haunts her today.

Raven-Symoné has had some time to reflect on a now-infamous statement she made 10 years ago that seemed to offend many Black people. The “That’s So Raven” star denounced labels and said she’s not African-American in a sit down with Oprah Winfrey back in 2014 and she feels her statement was misunderstood and made to be controversial. And this has been haunting her.

On her podcast with her wife, “Tea Time and Raven & Miranda,” she said, “I feel like the entire internet exploded and threw my name in the garbage. There was so much backlash from my community and others that misunderstood, slash didn’t hear the exact words that I said.”

And what exactly did Raven-Symoné say?

“I don’t want to be labeled gay. I want to be labeled a human who loves humans. I am tired of being labeled. I’m an American. I’m not an African-American. I’m an American.”

“Oh girl, don’t set up the Twitter…” Oprah started to respond. 

Raven-Symoné shared her frustration with her white wife, “A lot of people on the internet thought I said that I wasn’t Black, and I never said that. There’s a difference between being Black and African.”

She continued, “When I say that African-American does not align with me, that label, it doesn’t mean that I’m negating my Blackness or I’m not Black,” she explained. “It means I am from this country, I was born here, my mom, my dad, my great-great-great-great-great — and that’s what I’m saying. The pure logistics of it.”

“I understand my history. I understand where my ancestors came from. I also understand how much blood, sweat and tears they’ve soaked into this earth in order to create the America that I live in today, free, happy, tax-paying, American citizen.”

Raven said that she’s not first or second-generation African-American and identifies as simply American. She said she felt judged, attacked and not heard when headlines slammed her for saying she’s not African-American. 

Raven doesn’t believe that Oprah Winfrey set her up. However, it’s been reported that Raven’s mom thought Winfrey set her up for backlash by immediately reacting to Raven’s statements in the way that she did as opposed to letting her explain.

The intention of the sit-down with Oprah was for Raven to have a coming-out moment, but she feels the label conversation took over.

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