Raven-Symoné, the Issues of Race and Labels

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Race is a contentious issue at the best of times. We still live in a deeply racist society, despite the claims of the 21st century being ‘post-racial’, and people have strong opinions when it comes to their racial identities.

Raven-Symoné learnt this herself some weeks ago when she denounced the label ‘African American’ in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, explaining that she is “tired of being labelled”.

Understandably, arguments were raised on both sides, for and against Symoné’s anti-labelling stance. Not all of the criticism was debate-worthy or even constructive, though and she has now taken to Facebook to defend herself.

In a post, the actress states

“I don’t take offense to those that are mad at my personal opinion of myself. Like before, I’m glad there are conversations happening. Our generation tends to stay comfortable, at times, with issues and topics that need to be addressed.”


She then goes on to say that,

“What does irritate me is the bulling [sic] tone towards myself and other opinions in the blog. Keep your disrespectful, mean, hurtful, words in a diary for yourself. Personal attacking is not needed, and no matter what race, nationality, culture, or womb you came out of; strive for respect. Strive to be virtuous, so the conversation can lead to great things, other things.

Our ancestors of all races had the courage to stand up for what they believed in no matter what the fight. Back then I hope the motto wasn’t…”the more haters the better”


In many cases she is right – whether you disagree with what she said or not, verbally attacking her is unnecessary and doesn’t aid positive discussion. However, the suggestion that everyone critiquing her opinions are “haters” is somewhat troubling.

It’s unclear if we’ll hear her speak up about her beliefs again as the backlash was harsh enough that she backtracked on her ‘colourless’ expression a few days after she made it, confirming to thegrio that yes, she is still black.

But without Symoné, the conversation about race and labels rages on anyway, let’s just hope it can continue without the personal attacks on her in future.

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