Can a blind person choose to express to the world that they are not physically blind in exchange for having the world fully accept them as a person completely capable of seeing light? No. Being blind is an intricate part of who this person is which directly influences how this person must maneuver through the world in addition to how the world shall perceive him; for better or for worse. If the blind person wants to spend the rest of his life believing he can see light, then there is absolutely nothing with that, but the reality is…he is still blind.
“I’m tired of being labeled” — Raven Symone
There is this saying within the Black community when a Black person comes into money: “Oh, he/she is acting all brand new now.” Usually this saying is reserved for a bunch of jealous broke hood pigeons who are mad because their pockets haven’t changed. Then there are times when people do come into money AND actually DO begin to act brand new. This is what I see with Raven Symone to a degree. I understand that Raven Symone is not a stranger to money & last I heard she is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $50M; I could be wrong, but she’s currently worth way more than I am currently earning at the moment. With all of this money there is this belief amongst a lot of people within the Black community that Black folks begin to change. Not just necessarily changing their zip codes & lifestyles, but their attitudes about being Black begin to change as if they have somehow won the ultimate freedom lottery ticket. Now please don’t view this as me hating on her because she’s rich & I’m…on my way to being rich :-). I’m actually about to make a point in a few minutes, so please indulge.
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Raven Symone is worth $50M. Much props to her. She has earned it & she deserves every dollar she can get. $50M can allow a person to purchase A LOT OF STUFF. It can allow you to purchase very nice homes, very nice cars, very nice fashions, very exquisite foods…basically the best of the best that life has to offer. One item that $50M will allow a person to purchase that I believe a lot of people fail to notice immediately is the assumption of a new a reality. $50M allows a person to literally recreate their own version of the world. A version of the world that most people probably have a hard time dreaming about because the realities of a non-rich person’s world are too strong to ignore. $50M allows a person to shield themselves from the realities of life…temporarily. During this temporary transition from reality to fantasy, some people I believe begin to live their lives as if they are trapped within a sleep sequence similar to that of the movie Inception where they can bend, twist, contort, & reconstruct reality as they see fit. Having $50M is essentially the shit. I know I keep stressing the number $50M and it’s for a reason. $50M is not anything to sneeze at. Sure most of us would be more than satisfied if we recieved $100K or even just $1M. But $50M, that’s a lot of money. There are not that many people in the world period that have earned paper like that. So once you get to THAT financial level, transforming your fantasies into a pseudo reality is literally quite possible and you have more than enough resources to ensure that everything around you will reflect that fantasy in order to help ensure the fantasy lives on.
So…what’s the problem then?
The problem is…it is a fantasy. A fantasy fueled by money & all of the privileges that that type of income will allow a person to have. The overwhelmingly vast majority of the world do not live in that fantasy. The fantasy can be a delusion purposely blinding people from what they do not want to deal with. The fantasy is not real.
“I’m an American. I’m not an African American. I’m an American…” — Raven Symone
Raven Symone does not want to be labeled. Totally understandable. She has every right to not want to be labeled, so nobody can honestly get angry with her on that front. Where people like myself begin to question as to the exact world she is residing in pertains to the above quote. She is an American…correct. Is she NOT an African American…INCORRECT. Raven Symone has currently earned enough money in her life as to where she can literally afford to remove herself from the everyday life millions of Black people in America cannot. Millions of Black people no matter how hard they try are always & forever will be Black or African American. And in my opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Raven Symone appears to have a sever issue with labels & I’m assuming that is a stigma creeping into this area of her life quite possibly due to her coming out of the closet (but I could be wrong). Raven Symone appears to have an issue with labels that directly describe physical aspects about who she is. Physical aspects she could never truly erase. Physical aspects that uniquely make her Raven. And physical aspects that speak directly to her culture.
She is looking at these labels that describe her skin color & culture in a negative way instead of celebrating this African American label in a positive way. Raven Symone stated that she is an American; that is a label within itself that sets her apart from other countries in the world. A label she appeared to be proud to proclaim during that interview. But when it comes to further breaking down an American into subgroups, it then becomes a problem. It becomes a problem for her because quite possibly, she is so far removed from Black culture due to the $50M fantasy she has created that maybe her only real concept of what it means to be an African American is directly spoon fed to her by the very industry which has allowed her to prosper. The same industry that will portray Black people time & time again as thugs & hoodrats. She is living her life in a fantasy created by her own mind based off the illusions financed directly from her entertainment employers. So, to view being African American as a negative connotation is nothing more than a byproduct of the culture she literally grew up in. Because you have to remember, Raven Symone began her career in the entertainment industry literally as an infant. She has spent her entire life immersed in a culture that has constantly promoted the image that Black is bad and White is the way to go.
Listen, I’ve been having people tell me all day that I am misunderstanding the way she made her statement. People have been telling me that she is just innocently sick & tired of labels and she just wants to be treated like a human & love alike. I get that. Sounds great. But it’s not the complete truth. It’s so much not the truth that even Oprah made the comment, “That’s what it’s SUPPOSED to be”, in response to Raven describing America as a melting pot. Oprah, the Queen B, with enough money to award everybody in America with their own fantasy even recognizes that money cannot turn society color blind. Speaking of color blindness…
Color blindness is almost as dangerous as racism. Choosing to ignore ones skin color is essentially choosing to ignore an intricate part of that person that makes them who they are and is also a direct reflection of their heritage. Raven Symone says she has a lot of things running through her veins, which could be true. But back in reality, regardless of what a Black person has running through their veins, America sees you as Black or in her case African American. Truthfully, this should not be something to be ashamed. Accepting your cultural identity should be a badge of honor in that it further helps a person to make them even more unique. The greatest thing about America IS that it is a melting pot of a variety of cultures whom all claim the American umbrella yet still proudly celebrate their own unique cultural heritage. America is one of the few places a person can truly celebrate their heritage and culture freely. So why would anybody choose not to acknowledge a part of them that is inherently THEM to begin with? Claiming that you are just strictly “an American” truthfully helps to cause one to just nonchalantly blend in with the rest of the populace. Claiming that you are just “an American” in a foreign country is acceptable in the aspect that when dealing with people from other countries they often tend to view Americans as simply one group regardless of one’s race or heritage. Another aspect to consider, when most people from another country think of Americans, often times they tend to think of White people before they think of Black people. So one could ponder the question: is Raven Symone subconsciously choosing to identify with White people over Black people as a possibly side effect due to her upbringing in Hollywood?
In the end, my summation is that Raven Symone is truly clueless. Clueless in the aspect that she has literally spent her entire life immersed in the entertainment industry & has adopted the entertainment industry’s worldview for how they choose to portray Black people in America. Even though she is Black, her choosing to not identify as African American is really a concept that is foreign to most Black people simply because most Black do not have the option to choose how they should be identified. Sure, I can say I’m an American all day and not subscribe to the thought of me being an African American, but that doesn’t remove the reality of me actually being an African American in the same manner that it doesn’t remove the reality of the blind man being blind in my opening statement. America for better or worse sees colors. These colors should not be viewed in the manner of simply applying a label. Everything has labels. Raven Symone can be labeled as a female actress. If she ever wins an Academy Award for “BEST FEMALE ACTRESS” will she protest that label and attempt to change the category to just BEST ACTRESS or ACTOR or ENTERTAINER? I highly doubt it. It is what she is and that is what’s being celebrated. She should observe her African American identity from the celebratory perspective all the while understanding the delicate balance between the appreciation of skin color versus the hatred of skin color. I’m not saying she hates her skin color, I’m merely saying that there are people out there that do. But as it relates to her being comfortable with identifying as an African American, she should embrace that trait wholeheartedly. Unique cultural identities all fall up under the American umbrella.