Dear Raven Symone, About You Being “Colorless”… NOPE.
Because Raven Symone has earned a sternly-worded letter with the interview she did with Oprah on OWN this weekend.
Dear Raven Symone,
Hey girl, hey. Let’s talk about this interview you did with Mother Oprah and those things you said about not liking to be labeled. GWIRL STAHP!
First, lemme say that I don’t have much of an issue about you not wanting to be identified as “African American.” A lot of people feel no love towards the phrase for political and personal reasons. I get it. However, a lot of those people will also acknowledge that they’re Black. Or Black American. Not you, though. You told Goddess Winfrey that you just don’t want to be any parts of a color.
“I mean, I don’t know where my roots go to. I don’t know how far back they go… I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from, but I do know that my roots are in Louisiana. “
You do know Ancestry.com and 23andme exist, right? Fine. Don’t claim Africa, even though those features you share with many of us born and raised on the continent claim you. Like that nose. Hey sis.
It wasn’t even that you lacked the ability to articulate what you wanted to say. NOPE. Because Oprah tried many times to save you from yourself but you weren’t having none of it. You were standing wrong and strong. O was like “aw hell.” She saw that disaster train coming and you laid on the tracks and slicked it with oil.
“I’m American and that is colorless.” Ma’am, just because your hair is purple and blue doesn’t mean you are too. You’re Black. You also grew up in front of our eyes and got famous on the premier Black sitcom of our generation. You might not know exactly where you came from on the Motherland but the blood that runs through your veins is the legacy of slavery and the struggle of those that got you where you are. And I feel like it’s being disrespected when you deny your African-ness, your Blackness, your color.
But again, my issue is not mostly in your denial of Africanness. It is in the rejection of your color and your need to other yourself from the rest of us. Pointing out that you have “a nice, interesting grade of hair.” RAVEN. GWIRL. Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but our wig snatch can free your mind. Heathcliff Huxtable ain’t go to Hillman for you to be outchea talking nonsense.
You were talmbout you’re “American and that is colorless.” Lemme find out you’re water, Raven. ARE YOU WATER? Did Jesus walk on you?? Were you asked to turn into wine one day? Are you odorless, too? NO, RAYVEEN SEEMOAN! NAWL.
And then you also don’t want to be labeled as “gay” even though you have a partner who you’re proudly with. You’re a “human who loves other humans.” Girl.
You’re 28 years old, so you’re too grown for all these immature ass, tone deaf ass, fake kumbaya ass statements. I swear you’re all of us in high school before we got to college and took an Afro Studies class. Actually, many of us couldn’t afford the bubble of not knowing we were Black so… congrats. You know nothing (Jon Snow)!
Raven, I just want you to have a sit down with Toni Morrison so she can give you some perspective. I feel like her wisdom will have you seeing the light and she’s a grandmotherly type so she’ll probably bake you some bomb cookies as she lets you HAVE IT (with love). I don’t think Iyanla is right for this because her peak of Blackness is so Black that she reached back to Nigeria to get a name that no one goes by (because it’s a title). So…. not her. Toni will be just right. I need Oprah to make that happen next.
People who eschew ANY AND ALL classifications confuse me. Classifications and segments aren’t bad in and of themselves. What’s bad are the stereotypes and degradation that come with some of the segments we’re a part of. The acknowledgement of the boxes that we fit in isn’t wrong and neither is the recognition of our differences.
What matters is that we aren’t ostracized and villainized for the spaces we inhabit. You have a right to not want to be defined by any one of your identities. However, you can’t sit up there and deny the skin you’re in and reject any and all labels just because you think you’re so different that you fit into nothing and nowhere. You might think you’re Chairman of the board of “You’re So Different” Enterprises but there’s a box for everyone to check.
“I AM NOT GAY. I AM NOT BLACK. I AM HUMAN.” Oh ok. O_o
We are not all the same. Refusing to acknowledge that with some crap on colorblindness helps to perpetuate this crappy system of oppression because forced politeness and the fear of the “race card” trump actual work and progress. Plus, this is the kind of thing that white folks be talmbout, saying they don’t see color. Chile, I don’t have time.
In the words of my beloved cousin Kerry Washington, “I’m not interested in living in a world where my race is not a part of who I am. I am interested in living in a world where our races, no matter what they are, don’t define our trajectory in life.”
And what the world has far too many of are people who aren’t proudly and unapologetically Black. Raven, find a box you like and have a seat in it. Think some of this criticism through (and visit Ferguson like Keke Palmer did after she made similar “we’re all just humans” claims) and you might walk away knowing what crayon to pick out of the box to paint your skin with is not the one labeled “colorless.”
Yours in disappoints,
Chile, I hope this New Black that’s going around making people apologize/reject their skin color ain’t contagious.