Raven-Symoné explains her 2014 ‘I’m not African-American’ comment: ‘There’s a difference between Black and African’

“There was so much backlash from my community and others that misunderstood slash didn’t hear the exact words that I said,” the actress says.

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Raven-Symone attends the 9th Annual Truth Awards at Taglyan Complex on March 4, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allison Dinner/Getty Images)

Raven-Symoné is setting the record straight about controversial comments she made about her racial and ethnic identity 10 years ago. 

While speaking on her Tea Time With Raven and Miranda podcast on Tuesday, Raven-Symoné clarified a 2014 comment she made during an interview with Oprah Winfrey, where she stated that she was “not an African-American.” The actress, 38, told Winfrey at the time that she was “tired of being labeled,” and preferred to be seen as “a human who loves humans.”  

“I’m an American, I’m not an African-American. I’m an American,” Raven-Symoné said at the time. To which, Winfrey responded, “Oh girl, don’t set off Twitter.” 

Raven-Symoné now says that her comments have “haunted me since 2014” and that she felt that “the entire internet exploded and threw my name in the garbage” for her stance. 

“There was so much backlash from my community and others that misunderstood/didn’t hear the exact words that I said,” Raven-Symoné explained to her wife and co-host Miranda Pearman-Maday. “And the exact words that I said is that, ‘I’m an American, not an African-American.’ 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.”

Raven went on to say that when she says the African-American “label” doesn’t apply to her, it doesn’t mean she’s “negating my Blackness or I’m not Black.” 

“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 added that she is fully aware of her history as a Black person in America and the struggle her ancestors went through in this country. “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.” 

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Raven-Symoné added that when she travels internationally she’s seen as “an American, plain and simple” and not “look at that African-American over there.” The actress said that she “felt attacked” when her interview with Winfrey came out in 2014 and that her mother believes the media mogul set her up to fail. 

Raven-Symoné explained that she does not believe Winfrey was out to get her, but instead highlighted that particular comment for “people to scrutinize more.”

In the same interview with Winfrey, the actress also said she doesn’t identify as gay. “I said, ‘Don’t label me’ and it turned into that instead of my coming out,” Raven-Symoné added. 

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