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Raven-Symoné clarifies controversial comments that she's 'not an African American'

Raven-Symoné opens up about her comments about labels on her podcast Tea Time with Raven and Miranda.
Raven-Symoné opens up about her comments about labels on her podcast Tea Time with Raven and Miranda.

Years after Raven-Symoné sparked a social media backlash with controversial comments she made during an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the That's So Raven star is finally speaking out about how the remarks have "haunted me since 2014."

Bill Maher recently mentioned her decade-old comments about identity on his show Real Time, prompting Raven-Symoné to finally address the topic that drew the internet's ire in the latest episode of her podcast, Tea Time with Raven and Miranda.

During a 2014 interview, Raven-Symoné opened up about her sexuality, saying, "I don't want to be labeled gay. I want to be labeled a human who loves humans."

The former Disney star added, "I'm tired of being labeled — I'm an American, I'm not an African American. I'm an American."

This statement surprised Winfrey who warned that social media was going to have a field day with the comments, "Oh, girl, don't set Twitter on fire."

Later in the interview Raven-Symoné continued, "I don't know where my roots go to. I don't know how far back they go. And 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."

On the newest episode of her podcast, which she co-hosts with her spouse Miranda Maday, the 38-year-old Cheetah Girls star said that people "misunderstood" her comments to Winfrey and that they ended up overshadowing her coming-out story.

"When that aired, I felt like the entire internet exploded and threw my name in the garbage," she said. "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 thought I said that I wasn't Black. And I never said that."

After Maday prompted Raven-Symoné to explain her meaning, the former child star said that she did mean she was "negating my Blackness or I'm not Black."

"It means I am from this country. I was born here," she said. "My mom, my dad, my great-great-great-great-great — that's what I'm saying. The pure logistics of it."

She also clapped back at fans who were critical of her for not understanding her family tree. "I understand my history. I understand where my ancestors come from. I also understand how much blood, sweat, and tears they soaked into this earth in order to create the America that I live in today — free, happy, tax-paying American citizen."

Although Raven-Symoné said that she didn't think Winfrey had intentionally set her up, she expressed frustration that the news of her coming out was co-opted by this controversy. "That was supposed to be my coming-out story," she said, "and then it changed into something totally different."