Raven-Symoné addresses controversial 'not an African American' remark from 2014: 'I felt judged and not heard'

“A lot of people thought I said that I wasn’t Black. And I never said that.”

Raven-Symoné is looking back on controversial remarks she made in a 2014 interview with Oprah Winfrey that sparked a social media backlash that left her feeling "judged and not heard.”

Inspired by Bill Maher referencing her old comments on a recent episode of Real Time, the former Disney star said she was ready to discuss the incident that “has haunted me since 2014" on the latest episode of Tea Time With Raven and Miranda, the podcast she cohosts with her spouse, Miranda Maday.

After Winfrey questioned her about her journey with sexuality in the 2014 interview, the That's So Raven actress had a blunt response. “I don’t want to be labeled gay,” Raven-Symoné said. “I want to be labeled a human who loves humans."

She continued, "I’m tired of being labeled — I’m an American, I’m not an African American. I’m an American.”

Appearing shocked, Winfrey replied, “Oh, girl, don’t set Twitter on fire.”

<p>Emma McIntyre/Getty</p> Raven-Symoné

Emma McIntyre/Getty


During their conversation, Raven-Symoné later added, “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.”

The Cheetah Girls alum reflected on the social media storm that erupted after her statement on her Tuesday podcast. “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 added, “A lot of people thought I said that I wasn’t Black. And I never said that.”

When Mayday prompted her to clarify the remarks further, Raven-Symoné said it was a matter of “logistics.”

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

<p>OWN/YouTube</p> Raven-Symoné in a 2014 interview with Oprah Winfrey


Raven-Symoné in a 2014 interview with Oprah Winfrey

She also shut down critics who took shots at her for misunderstanding her ancestry. “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.”

Mayday later asked if Raven-Symoné thought Oprah set her up with her dramatic reaction to her comments. The actress admitted that her mom thought that was true, but she replied, “No, I don’t think that Oprah set me up. What I think she did, though, was shine a light on what I said for people to scrutinize more. If she just said, ‘Okay, yeah you’re an American, cool beans, next question,’ I don’t think people would have sparked such a big ordeal.”

She also expressed her disappointment with the interview as a whole. “That was supposed to be my coming-out story,” she said, “and then it changed into something totally different.”

Watch Raven-Symoné reflect on the 2014 incident with her wife in the video above.

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