The world has been buzzing, almost losing it, over some comments made by Raven-Symone on a recent episode of Where Are They Now? with Oprah Winfrey. For those who don’t know who she is, She was the cute little curly haired girl on the Cosby Show in the 90’s known as Olivia. Funny comebacks & a sassy little attitude. She later had a show in her namesake along with many shows, films, & business ventures. Well she is grown now. There has been much speculation about her sexuality in the last few years. Is she gay? Isn’t she? Though she’s a celebrity, she manages to keep her private life private, which I can appreciate. Why does the world need to know all of your business? What restaurants you frequent? Who you’re dating? What gym you go to? Do you love eggs or just like ’em when you go to B&B’s? Who cares?
Truth is, Her job is to be an entertainer. Not to be a poster child for GAY. She admitted to being in a very happy relationship with a woman. Kudos! Glad she’s happy. That still doesn’t mean she wants to be labeled gay and I get it.
Gay is life for many. Gay is a label. Whether you choose to identify as gay or homosexual or bisexual or sexually fluid or “I like who I like, period”, gay is the label attached to you. Some of us don’t mind it. Some of us proudly wear it like a badge of honor. Letting everyone we come in contact with, just so you know, I’m gay! I’m here! Get used to it! Kudos to you. We all should be proud of who we are. Some of us don’t care either way. More of statement saying, I know who & what I am. Your approval or disapproval does not matter either way. No one proclaims their straightness. No one seeks acceptance to be straight. They just are and go on living their lives. I think the same should apply for gay. If I know you personally, then you know about me. If I don’t know you, why should I be anything more than just another human being?
This brings me to Raven’s now infamous statement: “I don’t want to be labeled gay. I want to be labeled as a human who loves humans. I’m tired of labels…I’m an American. I don’t want to be labeled African-American. I’m an American.”
People, especially Blacks were and still are upset with her for making that statement. They feel like she is denouncing her Blackness. Most African-Americans are made up of a mixture of nationalities, due to slavery & the rape/relationships of slave owners & slaves, along with the other nationalities migrating to America. For her, African American is a term. A label made by society to say this is what you are. This is the category you fit in. But what if you are an array of nationalities and cultures? What if your genetic make-up is a blur? Unknown because you cannot trace that far back nor are there sufficient records for your ancestors. Because they were African & therefore deemed as property as opposed to a person. All you know for certain is that you were born in America. To American parents. An American citizen.
I have been having this conversation with myself for awhile. I know I’m Black. Then too, I know I come from Native Americans. Looking at the fair skin of some of family members & as well as hair textures also leads me to believe we are derived from European ancestry as well. So why do I have to label myself as African American? I didn’t come from Africa. I have friends who did come from Africa, took their citizenship test, & became true African-Americans. It makes sense to me. I just don’t feel as if that applies to me. So with Raven, I understand the hesitation to be labeled. Labels are fixed, concrete, one-dimensional. Sometimes the labels don’t fit who we are or who we feel we are.
And if we decide to not be defined by a label, That’s okay.