Raven-Symoné Again Tries Explaining Her Infamous ‘I’m an American’ Comment—And It's Not Helping

Photo: Unique Nicole (Getty Images)
Photo: Unique Nicole (Getty Images)
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Raven-Symoné has been famous since she was a child. This familiarity can make fans and trolls feel like they know her. To that end, the actress has found herself as the subject of intense backlash for her outspoken nature. The criticism has never been stronger than after an infamous 2014 interview with Oprah Winfrey.

On the latest episode of her podcast, “Tea Time With Raven and Miranda,” she and her wife, Miranda Maday, discussed her comments in the interview and how they recently resurfaced during a conversation on “Real Time With Bill Maher.”

In the 2014 interview, while discussing her sexuality, Oprah asked the “That’s so Raven” actress, “So you don’t want to be labeled gay?”

The former Disney Channel star replied, “I don’t want to be labeled gay.”

“I want to be labeled a human who loves humans,” she told Winfrey. “I’m tired of being labeled — I’m an American, I’m not an African American. I’m an American.”

Oprah instantly recognized how controversial the comments would be and gave her guest a chance to clarify. Raven added that she doesn’t label herself, saying, “I’m an American.”

Raven-Symoné is allowed to feel however she wants about her identity. Unfortunately, we live in a society where context is an afterthought. I have to assume when she made those comments, she didn’t plan for someone like Bill Maher to use them to make his own weird point. So here she is, 10 years later, once again trying to explain her feelings.

“Now, when that aired, I felt like the entire internet exploded and threw my name in the garbage,” Raven said on the podcast. “There was so much backlash from my community and others that misunderstood slash didn’t hear the exact words that I said.”

A particular point of criticism was her saying “I’m an American, not an African American.” The “Raven’s Home” star explained, “A lot of people thought I said that I wasn’t Black. And I never said that.”

“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 said. “It means I am from this country. I was born here. My mom, my dad, my great-great-great-great-great — that’s what I’m saying. The pure logistics of it.”

“I also understand how much blood, sweat, and tears they soaked into this earth in order to create the America that I live in today — free, happy, tax-paying American citizen,” Raven continued.

The couple also discussed whether they thought Oprah “set up” the “Cheetah Girls” actress, with Raven revealing that she thinks the host stopping the interview to spotlight the moment didn’t help, but she didn’t feel like she was “set up.”

Ultimately, Raven-Symoné feels she doesn’t have to be labeled because she and her ancestors are just as American as anyone else. This is absolutely true, but she also must to be prepared to defend these comments forever. We live in a world where people want to label everything so they can understand it and put it in a specific box. Frankly, she’ll never be able to really get away from labels.

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