Should we define ourself by our race?

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey.

This morning, I woke up to an article that someone had emailed to me, that I found a bit disturbing. Ravene Simone, who played Olivia on The Cosby show, did an interview with Oprah where she spoke in depth about rejecting labels. This is what she had to say;

“I don’t want to be labeled ‘gay. I want to be labeled ‘a human who loves humans.” She continued, “I’m tired of being labeled,” she says. “I’m an American. I’m not an African-American; I’m an American. I mean, I don’t know where my roots go to,” Raven explains. “I don’t know how far back they go… 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.”

When Oprah gave her the opportunity to clarify her statement, remarking that she would likely receive a blacklash on Twitter, what she went on to say didn’t help her argument:

 “I don’t label myself. I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian, I connect with Asian, I connect with Black, I connect with Indian, I connect with each culture.”

While I respect Raven’s right to define herself as she see fits, I find her comments problematic. With no hesitation I define myself as a ‘Black Girl In The Ring’. I weep for those that think acknowledgement of their race and culture, and the privilege and/or prejudices that comes with it, will stifle their individual growth and worth. The two should not be seen as mutually exclusive, they actually work in tandem to mold thought and action. Social consciousness allows you to see others for who they are while affording you the opportunity to embrace the human similarities that exist. That is where you find ‘oneness’. Tell me readers, do you share Raven’s view, are you ‘colourless’?

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4 thoughts on “Should we define ourself by our race?

    1. Raven’s interview disturbed me to the highest degree. I watched it multiple times thinking what in pure BS is she talking about. In order to ‘belong’ to something, you must first know who you are, and part of that knowledge comes from accepting your history, and for the record African history does not start or end with slavery, poverty, war and ebola. I feel as though it is those incomplete stories of our history that keeps making black people feel they should disown their race. I also found it amusing that Raven self-identifies with Caucasian, Asian and Indian, yet choosing to say Black rather than African.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I still haven’t wrapped my head around that train wreck. How could she. Why would she. It’s nauseating. I love how she doesn’t want a label, but yet claims the label American. She’d rather claim those who have been systematically oppressing us for centuries now, those who see us as dirt of the street, than her own people. It’s just… I can’t describe it. I remember I went to an event once and this speaker said something along the lines of, us black people running after the white man is like an antelope trying to befriend a hungry lion instead of running the hell away.

    I think it’s funny actually, that every other race of people are frantically trying to claim Afrika but, we children of Afrika out there utterly denying the land, the name, the culture, everything that is ours and beautiful. I’ll never understand how anyone can look at a goldmine and see a dumping ground.

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