Raven-Symone is right to think beyond being labeled ‘black’

Former Disney wonder girl and “The Cosby Show” star Raven-Symone went into a bit more detail about her sexual orientation in an interview with Oprah that was without a doubt going to draw ire from social media, black people and Black Twitter.

During the interview, Raven discussed with Oprah a tweet she sent thanking the Supreme Court of the Untied States for their ruling on same-sex marriage.

Naturally, Oprah went into asking Simone when she knew she was attracted to women. Simone said, “I was like twelve. I was looking at everything.”

When Oprah asked if Raven, at the time, had a “word” or “language” for her attraction toward boys and girls she responded, “I don’t need language. I don’t need a categorizing statement for it.”

Oprah then interjected by saying, “So you don’t want to be labeled gay?” Raven agreed saying, “I don’t want to be labeled gay. I want to be labeled a human who loves humans.”

She also alluded to not wanting to be labeled as an African-American.

This seemingly innocuous statement lit social media afire and spawned a number of posts and statuses tearing into Symone, accusing her of not realizing she is black or choosing to “distance herself from the tribe” as said by a “The Grio” columnist Blue Telusma.

Telusma transitions from saying Symone could have used this opportunity to explain “what she represents as a human being” to saying,

“But instead, she chose to say she was colorLESS. Instead, she chose to distance herself from her tribe; quite literally whitewashing the richness of her African-American culture in the hopes of melting into a chorus of “Kumbaya” with all of mankind”

Telusman continues,

“Let’s be clear, love — as much as we (i.e. the black community) cherish your legacy on The Cosby Show, white America has pretty much ignored you after you left that stint on Disney. And they certainly didn’t buy any of your albums.

WE are the reason you’re still relevant.”

Another writer, Jordan Lebeau of “Boston.com,” adds to the sentiment saying, “The most wrong-headed portion of the 28-year-old actress’s comments, however, is that she thinks America is ‘colorless.'”

What these writers and opposing viewpoints fail to see is that one can be aware of how they are perceived by the general public while also wanting to avoid cornering themselves in by attaching one’s self to black- and lesbian-specific issues.

You can still be a black person but strive to be a person without labels and limitations.

Just because she doesn’t want to be labeled black doesn’t immediately mean she wants to jump off the bandwagon and into the arms of “Team White People.” If that was the case, wouldn’t she romantically be with a white person?

You have to be able to see and understand how race, sex and gender operate in the world and America in order to work to abolish their negative connotations.

Symone could have clarified her statements by saying that she understands what it means to be a part of all of those communities, but why should she? Why should it be up to her for people to not take her statements as shameful, offensive and poisonous? I think it’s time for people to start thinking critically instead of in the terms of Team White People vs. Team Black People.

Nothing is wrong with anyone who chooses to identify themselves however they want. We all have the right to project who we want to be choose and with whom we want to associate ourselves.

And who wants to be a part of the “tribe” mentality? The word points to nationalism and close-mindedness.

This mindset is rooted in the Us vs. Them paradigm.

We as people should strive to be tribeless as we move toward a more perfect nation and world. This doesn’t have to mean forgetting who you are or where you come either.

Too many people think in dualities, either or.

It’s the same reason why one of the hosts of “Hot 105.1,” Charlamagne, had a difficult time comprehending Donald Glover’s (aka Childish Gambino) comments on wanting to be “white” after a Ferguson police officer shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

Glover discussed the difficulties in reaching a certain status in the entertainment industry because of his skin color — not being black enough for “Pitchfork” critics and not white enough to play movie roles like Spider-Man.

Charlamage took Glover’s comments on “whiteness” as actually wanting to be white instead of thinking that maybe he thinks that if everyone was treated like white people, there wouldn’t be a need to define anyone with race because we’d all be equal.

Similarly, Glover has already been distanced by the black community because of the way he dresses and the way he chooses to discuss racial topics (he also prefers not to date black or white women because of the politics associated with those choices).

I find it difficult to believe Raven thinks racism, sexism and gender discrimination don’t exist or haven’t played a role in limiting her career opportunities. After all, she is black, gay and a woman.

What Raven said should not be inflammatory. It’s how she wants to live her own life –without pigeonholing her chances to succeed by associating herself with two narrow groups of the general population.

It’s always amazing how someone making a statement about how they choose to live their own life can be deemed reprehensible.

Saying that you want to be a human who loves everybody also means that you can love black people as well. The last time I checked, black people are too of the human race.

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