Earlier this week Raven Symoné sat down with Oprah Winfrey to discuss issues with her identity, addressing these issues with “I’m tired of being labeled” and following to say, “I’m an American. I’m not an African-American; I’m an American”. She also says “I don’t want to be labeled ‘gay’, I want to be labeled a human who loves humans”. I understand what Raven Symoné was trying to do, but Raven Symoné was not clear of the message she thought she was sending in terms of an act of “bravery” or “sticking it to prejudice” bravado. This is the same women who has been part of the successful African-American shows (that African-Americans embraced) such as The Cosby’s Show and Hanging with Mr. Cooper.
I can’t really say with certainty what ideology Ms. Symone was attempting to attack but she certainly didn’t achieve an appropriate message or goal in the eyes of the people she was attempting to reach. She instead sent a perception that “we are powerless to be ourselves against racism and prejudice here in America, thus in order to combat this we must join as one and remove labels of who we are” or “that we cant stop people from being racist/prejudice, we lost, let’s just be American”. Sending a message to those of oppression such as homosexuals who struggle each day with societal mistreatment who now feel like hiding and blending in is probably the best thing for them or the countless African-Americans who fight everyday in a society that sees them as the savages of the country and worthless. This tactic to remove shame of who they are and finding ways to hide it or accept it is unspeakable. Think about all the people who are racist or prejudice that she just gave validity to, to remove who we are and all ancestral lineage that we belong to. Celebrities and their words that are far too often on T.V. in today’s society consume to the general public that their belief ring the truest and they hold highest credibility for different communities. This belief is dangerous to the people who have to live in reality away from celebrities.
Instead of Ms. Symoné looking at this as an opportunity to profess “I am African-American or that I am gay and I’m proud of that but that should not give anyone the right to express displeasure with me or treat me unequally” (since a good portion of American have a hard time providing equality to both groups) she chose to take the “flight over fight”. She could’ve even gone about by saying, “I am African-American and gay but I’m still American”. But no Ms. Symoné said remove my heritage of my family and what I stand for, detach and disassociate anything about who I truly am.
In a historical context her comments seems to be (subconsciously) the exact ideas slaves were psychologically condition to be dependent on “America” to determine who they were. I would even question why be called just “American” when this same America forced African ancestors to a land to work for servitude and upon release discriminated and killed blacks for no other reason but wearing the same skin color that I share. Ms. Symoné seems to believe that just because she can trace her roots back to Louisiana that will prevent her from being discriminated against by the wrong “Americans” in the wrong part of town for no other reason but for her being a black woman (add gay to that and she would be in a heap of trouble). In fact black people today have trouble with society perception of being black, it’s not about the clothes, or the aggression. No, in many cases we are assumed to be a danger to society just for our skin, and law enforcement (in particular) take over-calculated measures to insure safety that was never even a threat to begin with. These measures and the consequences that result are not performed on any other race at the level with black people and this is what “America” Raven Symoné says we JUST need to be called and scratch the African part?
I understand we are all Americans, yes we have a natural citizenship to America, but we have to realize that the reason we have “African” as part of our nationality is because we have a direct link and lineage to that homeland. Yes we may not know it entirely thanks to “America” and her dreadful history of removing it by physical and psychological force, but our pigmentation alone gives rise to that link, and maybe that’s why it has bred so much envy. We should not in any way remove that presence or even want to.
All in All regardless of who you are, wear it with pride. As long as it does not impede on the good will of ALL people then that should be enough for acceptance. Regardless of sexual orientation or nationality, be proud of your culture, we all have a lot to learn about the next person, that’s the beauty of diversity, if everyone starts being the same then what good is diversity? How can one solve anything if everyone thinks the same? As Tom Burrell said “Black people are not dark-skinned white people”.