Raven-Symoné addresses old interview where she said ‘I’m not African American’

Raven-Symoné is clarifying a comment she made during a 2014 interview with Oprah Winfrey.

On Tuesday 2 April the actor said in a recent Tea Time with Raven & Miranda episode with her wife, Miranda Pearman-Maday, that she was specifically referring to the line she told Winfrey that she is “an American, I’m not an African American”.

The That’s So Raven star said that the backlash she received on social media after making that comment came from people misunderstanding her and not clearly hearing it.

“I wanna talk about something that has haunted me since 2014,” she began. “When that aired, I felt like the entire internet exploded and threw my name in the garbage. There was so much backlash from my community and others that misunderstood, slash didn’t hear the exact words that I said.”

“And the exact words that I said is that ‘I’m an American, not an African American,’” she continued. “A lot of people on the internet thought I said that I wasn’t Black, and I never said that. There’s a difference between being Black and African.”

Her wife then asked her to clarify what exactly that difference meant to her.

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

She didn’t want to discount the work her ancestors have put in to be able to give her the life she lives now, noting, “how much blood, sweat and tears they’ve soaked into this earth in order to create the America that I live in today: free, happy, tax-paying, American citizen.”

The Raven’s Home star added that when she visits other countries no one tends to make the claim, “Look at that African American over there” and they will usually say, “There’s an American, plain and simple.”

After seeing the general public’s reception to her comment the actor recalled that she “felt attacked”.

“I felt judged and not heard,” she said, pointing out that she is not a first or second-generation American. “Stop mislabelling us,” she said.

The actor also explained that more people seem to understand her point of view with younger generations “starting to break down those barriers of labelling”.

During the time of the interview, Raven-Symoné’s mom made the assumption that Winfrey had somehow set her up to receive backlash because of how quickly the talk show host had reacted to her comments instead of letting her finish her statement.

She recalled walking off of the stage after the interview feeling like she “said something that’s bad, which contradicts who I am as a human”.

The actorherself doesn’t specifically think she was “set up” but she did think the host shined a light on what she said for “people to scrutinise more”.

Apparently, the interview was supposed to be Raven-Symoné’s coming out interview but had quicked turned into an interview about labels instead. The Cheetah Girls alum also told Winfrey during the interview that she didn’t want to be labelled gay.

“I want to be labelled a human who loves humans,” she replied, before making her comments about being “tired of being labelled”.

“I said, ‘Don’t label me’ and it turned into that instead of my coming out,” she said.