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Raven-Symone Doesn't Like Labels: 'I'm Not African American'

Raven-Symone Doesn't Like Labels: 'I'm Not African American'

Raven-Symone is speaking out about her dislike of being labeled by stereotypes in society.

The 28-year-old actress appeared on Oprah Winfrey‘s Where Are They Now? program to open up about her sexuality and views on race.

“I’m tired of being labeled,” she said. “I’m an American. I’m not an African American; I’m an American… 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. I’m an American. And that’s a colorless person.”

Oprah then warned her: “You’re going to get a lot of flak for saying you’re not African American. You know that, right?”

“I don’t label myself. I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian. I connect with Asian. I connect with Black. I connect with Indian. I connect with each culture,” Raven said.

Watch below to see Raven also talk about her sexuality:

Raven-Symoné: “I’m Tired of Being Labeled”
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Photos: Instagram
Posted to: Oprah Winfrey, Raven Symone

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  • sarah

    So much respect for her. Proudly stating, “I’m an American” I always find it annoying when “some” people would say, African American. It’s like what? you were born her, your parents were born here. Your an American. When’s the last time a Caucasian said, I’m a Caucasian American? Good for her!!

  • MikeG

    Well say whatever you want… she IS BLACK but not African american… She’s as “american” as everyone else in this country. You don’t call others, latin american, euro-american, or asian-american. 99 percent of people in the US are non american natives.

  • AK

    she’s right

    I’m always hate when someone called black people an african american !!

    or asian american ..

    why they don’t call euro american ??

    all american are not native and their roots come from other country ::)

  • Lola

    Whoopi Goldberg said the same thing ages ago … so why would Raven receive any flak for this? She is being honest.
    Plus, in this web site, I have had people write to me that if I use the term Caucasian to reference white Americans, I am not using it properly because it should only be used by people that have that origin and not every white person in the US of A.
    I understand what it is to be politically correct, the term an attitude came as a backlash of trying to add sensibility to people that made really crude and rude comments toward others, but the adding of a word, whether it is Asian, African or Caucasian before the word American may need a new study of why these terms were initially used and if they are still valid.

  • Living in a box

    There’s a lot of racism and stereotyping people in United State.

  • Yeah

    Great! It’s about time.

  • D.

    That’s cool, I’ll always think of her as ‘that cute little girl’ form The Cosby Show.

  • Raven

    the fact that she doesn’t label herself African American doesn’t mean she’s not…¬¬ there’s nothing wrong about that btw

  • D Boy

    Obviously she doesn’t understand the difference between nationality and heredity / ancestry. Or between sexual preference of which there are more than one therefore needing more than one term to describe of which preference you belong. If you were to take this girls DNA and compare it to people from Africa then YES SHE IS AFRICAN. However since she was born in the United States, her nationality is American. But the only people who can call their ANCESTRY American are American Indians. It’s pretty sad actually that she seems ashamed of her African heritage. If there wasn’t heritages and cultures that brought their flavors to the U.S. we wouldn’t have anything but teepees and wigwams. No pasta, no hot dogs, no JAZZ (African Contribution), etc. We should never shun our heritage and our culture that we come from as it is who we are. Furthermore science is now proving that epigenetics passed down from our ancestors get put into us. Meaning all of our ancestors memories in their life experience is not gone when they die, but it is actually passed down through their progeny. Meaning that even though this young lady may be an American in nationality, science and epigenetics dictates that she has the ancestral memories and genes of her African heritage forefathers. She should embrace what she is instead of reject it and be ashamed of it. Sad very sad. Similarly I think Europeans should be referred to as Italian Americans or German Americans or British Americans, or Irish Americans, or Belgian Americans, etc. I feel that it’s racist when someone gives a person of European descent a large sweeping generalization of saying “White” what the hell does “White” mean? Have you ever studied European history and ancient history? There were hundreds and hundreds of European TRIBES all of them different. To just label all of the people descended from those tribes today as “White” is ridiculous and racist in itself.

  • offtheproperty

    Look at the kind of Hell those people have to go through to deal with each other. Look at the way “community leaders” in Los Angeles totally dissed and discarded young black actress who called the cops racists for putting her in handcuffs when she refused to give her I.D. after a citizen called police about her having sex in public WITH HER WHITE BOYFRIEND. “Community leaders” said she should never have “played the race card” in that case because it cheapens the power of “playing the race card” in their own personal favorite bitch fits like when a white cop in St. Louis defends himself with lethal force against an overweight black teenager who had already severely assaulted him. Wrong. Wrong, And wrong.
    Just obey the law, people. And don’t assault police officers or anyone else and when a police officer asks you for your I.D. you hand him your I.D.

  • Putain

    Well, technically “America” is a whole continent not just a country, isn’t it?

  • Jom

    Oh give me a break. Calling yourself an AMERICAN is a label. Calling yourself HUMAN is a label. I see nothing wrong with blacks calling themselves African American. I know my roofs are from East Africa. My family have our roots traced backed to Africa. We identify with that heritage. So to me, I am African American. I respect the country that I was born and raise in (America) and I respect the race (African) that am mostly of and identify with. It is all about how you look at it. If Raven want to be technical about it,even being called Black is a label that some blacks do not like. What is black? It is viewed as something negative (black magic, black plague, etc). SO this nonsense is no different. At the end of the day, Raven is going to be called African American regardless if she likes it or not.

  • Jom

    @AK: WHy do you hate it. I hate it when people act like labels do not matter when labels really do matter. There are difference and there is nothing wrong with those difference. The PROBLEM is when someone wants to make you feel bad about being who you are. Look at Raven comments, some people can be just offended by her remarks just as she is about their remarks. Who is right who is wrong? NO one. I love the title “African American better than I do the word “black”. AA is really more fitting than the work black. What does the word “black” means? SOrry I am not really that word but I am repsentation of TWO countries. America and Africa.

  • Jom

    @sarah: WHy do you find it annoying? I find it annoying when people have hypocrisy to this issue. Calling yourself an American is a label just like calling yourself African American.

  • yay

    I agree with her and I’m not even black.

  • ohlala

    I agree with her except she’s neither african or american, she is a U.S citizen. America is a continent not the united states. Canadians, argentinians, colombians, brazilians, mexicans, salvadorians, nicaraguans, chileans and all residents of north, central and south american are all AMERICANS.

  • Mike

    @D Boy i disagree with something that you said. Just because she considers herself an american but not african american does not mean she is ashamed of her color or ancestry. I am filipino and white. I havent really looked into my ancestry or studied the culture of the phillipines or any of the euro countries my ancestors came from. I would describe myself as an american as well because i feel comfortable and happy with knowing american history and its customs. That doesnt mean i am ashamed with my background i just dont have a need to prove my asianess or whiteness. i think at the end of the day people should allow people to label themselves or not in this case. One other thing. My mom does not know very mich about asian culture. When she was in school the teachers told mygrandparents not to speak to her in filipino. The government created generations who wont have deep roots into their cultures, so you might want to slow your roll on calling her a race traitor. There will be a lot of generations who feel like raven and i do.

  • hahahah


    People from the UNited states need to stop using the label *American* period. America is a continent not a country.

  • Mattoo83

    The continent is called North America, not America. “America” refers solely to the “United States of AMERICA”, not Canada, and not Mexico. I am Canadian, and no one would ever refer to me as American, same goes for Mexicans. You could call me a North American, but not an American.

  • Mattoo83

    I’m sorry but you are so wrong. Just because “United States” is in front of America, you seem to forget that USA IS AMERICA. The continents are not AMERICA, they are NORTH AMERICA and SOUTH AMERICA. “America” when used as a single word only means the USA.
    “North America” means Canada, USA, and Mexico. “Central America” means the countries between Guatemala and Panama, and “South America” means all the countries between Colombia and Chile. Don’t refer to Canadians as Americans… we take our referred name from our country, not our continent. That would be like calling a Papua New Guinean an Australian because they are on the continent of Australia. It doesn’t work that way.



    Shut up you stupid yankee. No Canadian would write such a stupid comment like yours.

  • reallife



    She should call herself a Yank.

  • Mattoo83

    You and reallife are plain wrong. Try doing some research before you assume things that just aren’t true. How is UNITED STATES OF AMERICA not AMERICA? The word is right there, or can’t you read past those 3 hard words in front of it? The continent is “NORTH AMERICA” and “SOUTH AMERICA”, yes known as “The Americas”, but not AMERICA. You require NORTH and SOUTH to differentiate between the continents, and thusly neither can be called AMERICA by themselves. AMERICA refers to USA. If you had ever been to Mexico or Canada, you would know quite clearly not to call either of those peoples AMERICANS. And I am no Yankee, I’m Canadian eh! Edmontonian to be exact. So I’m in no way shape or form AN AMERICAN. Continue to argue if you feel it necessary, but I don’t, because I am right, and I have justified my argument satisfactorily. Peace.

  • ohmy

    She’s right though; why aren’t white americans called Euro- Americans. It’s like they purposely make a distinction with everyone who isn’t white and give them a name before American. There is African-American, Latin-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American. They even gave the original inhabitants of the U.S the term Native American. Yet the whites don’t have something before – American.
    I’m with Raven on this, she’s totally right. And I hate labels too.

  • bob


    Just because many misappropriate the term “American” to mean “from the U.S” it doesn’t make its use correct. America or the Americas designate continents, not countries.

    And, I fully understand Raven’s discomfort with labeling herself. Not every population in the world defines themselves by ancestry/genetics. In some countries, the concept of nationality is what feeds one’s sense of identity (shared history, customs, food, music) because there is no such thing as racial purity. Gene pools have been mixed to the point where is ridiculous to trace back every ancestor’s place of origin.

  • retrobanana

    I always thought african american sounded supid HOWEVER i am black and i am proud of thats and she should be too

    Even if shes mixed…i am too but i identify as black proudly…but i hated when people called ne african aamerican
    If you are from france and your are black you arent called african french african greek, african italian, african European. ..etc???? Silly American term

  • mytho


    it would probably be even weirder if you’re jamaican, trini, or from guayana and you’re still called african american

  • mytho

    anyone find it strange how she looks so much like nicole ritchie in this interview? Nicole Ritchie is also part black but she’s not labelled an african american.

  • lorde

    In Canada you’re just Canadian, no label before Canadian. However, everyone is always obsessed to know where you came from, especially if you’re not white. They’re all super interested in your ancestry, it’s kind of annoying.

  • Fynn

    I always thought of her as another child-star gone insane (still do today too some extent), but I do agree with her about labels here in America, and how they reform the way we look/treat each other because of it.

    Good on her for being a progressive.

  • Jakeo

    It’s probably more like an encyclopedia of culture and not a stereotype, we showcase our traditions and local flavors and have respect for our elders.

  • Kira

    Must be nice to live in a bubble. Go to Korea, China, and Germany and tell them that Raven. If a police call gets put out and they ask to describe the suspect? Yup, you got it. Black, African-American. She is culturally both African and American just like Jewish friends who are atheists are still culturally Jewish. She doesn’t like labels but she is ok being labeled American? Duh. Why are these nonsensical ideals always targeted at the black community? Why not go to white conservatives and see how much they accept you as anything but black. By the way, I am white and I know the reality of America, why doesn’t she? Oh because she is a dingbat actress.