Raven-Symoné Isn’t Just Against Black Names, She’s Against Blackness

raven-symone-facebookI have seen critique after critique deeming Raven-Symoné’s comments for the discrimination against people with “Black sounding” names “ironic.” But, maybe the issue isn’t that her concerns are hypocritical – because I honestly don’t think her name or appearance are culturally or historically “Black.” Eccentric perhaps. But, “Black?” Not really. In this situation, what most people fail to recognize is that Raven-Symoné is doing her damndest to 1) remove herself as much as humanly possible from Black culture (until it results in a paycheck from a cameo on Empire), and 2) placate a predominantly White, female audience to keep her struggle seat on The View

While covering a “new” scientific report showing that many people attribute negative characteristics to people with “stereotypically Black” sounding names on The View, the That’s So Raven veteran star had these words to offer.

“Just to bring it back, can we take back “racist” and say “discriminatory,” because I think that’s a better word. And I am very discriminatory against words like the ones that they were saying in the video. I’m not about to hire you if your name is Watermelondrea. It’s just not going to happen. I’m not going to hire you.”

I’m not sure who Watermelondrea is. I think she used to do cornrows, quick weaves, and lip piercings out of her kitchen.

No, but really, Watermelondrea, her sister Tangerineisha, and their older brother Mandarin-Orangethal Junior are just characters that exist in bigoted and racist White people’s minds when they conceive of Black Americans. I’m pretty sure Raven-Symoné was the one who poured them that racist Kool-aid and has been consistently sipping some of her stash in secret.

It was only a year ago that this young woman moved her lips in front of Oprah Winfrey to refer to herself as “colorless” and “American” but not Black. And, just a few months later, she defended racist comments about First Lady (The Illest) Michelle Obama citing her own supposed similarities to “Toucan Sam” as a justification for the gendered and hateful epithets thrown at Mrs. Obama since the President’s first rise to fame in 2004. Last I checked, we dropped Raven-Symoné in the race draft with Ben Carson, Don Lemon and Stacey Dash a while ago. So, isn’t this kind of a moot topic anyway?

I am not going to sit here and criticize Raven-Symoné’s hairstyling choices. I’m also not going to attribute her name to Black culture writ large. But, I will say that her efforts to whiten herself include the blackness-social-distancing-acrobatics she engages in regularly. They are part and parcel with her pushing back against a community which, in her opinion, really has never been checking for her anyway (and with good reason).

Remember Raven-Symoné’s awkwardest appearance on a predominantly Black music television show – “106th and Park” – back in 2010? She may as well had walked on set and said, “My agent told me I had to do this cause I look like some of y’all.” Then,  dropped the mic and rolled out.


Essentially, folks may get distracted with hair and naming conventions or whatever else that is wrapped up in this story. But, the real, underlying fact here is that Raven-Symoné’s name could be the blackest name ever conceived of; She could have the deepest, darkest ebony skin recorded in history; She could even have phenotypically “Black” hair full of chunky kinks and coils. Her daddy could be the deacon who yells things like “Preach!” and “Say that!” from the pews at Saint John Missionary Baptist Episcopal Church of God in Christ Jesus whilst throwing his hankerchief and doing the Christian Nae-Nae. Literally, she could embody every stereotypically, historically, or factually Black trait we could muster up. Even with all of that, if she was committed to rebuking her blackness, the issue wouldn’t be irony. It would be her inability to see the beauty and worth in the very Black culture she wants so badly to eradicate.

Raven-Symoné isn’t checking for the totality of blackness. That means all of it, names or otherwise.


Photo credit: Facebook

The following two tabs change content below.

Jenn M. Jackson

Jenn M. Jackson, PhD is a co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Water Cooler Convos. She is a native of Oakland, CA. Jenn is a radical Black feminist scholar who believes none of us are free until all of us are free.

7 Responses

  1. Mary Burrell says:

    But she is on Blackish and Empire and it was the African American community that embraced her as a child on the Cosby show. She doesn’t understand she’s a shill for white supremacy. I am reminded of that show Cosmic Slop with an episode called Space Invaders and that movie the Drop Squad.

  2. Mary Burrell says:

    She is trying so hard to be on the fringe and edgy and failing

  3. I agree. She is literally at Don Lemon status at this point.

  4. Mary Burrell says:

    LOL @ “Don Lemon status” That is really bad i don’t think she can be redeemed. She is just tone deaf and has no clue why the things she says are harmful and hateful.

  5. I’m starting to think she’s doing this on purpose.

  6. Steve S says:

    “No, but really, Watermelondrea, her sister Tangerineisha, and their older brother Mandarin-Orangethal Junior are just characters that exist in bigoted and racist White people’s minds when they conceive of Black Americans.”

    Actually Watermelondrea is a Youtube personality. You should check her out for yourself.

  7. iman says:

    as much as i love raven symone, she says the dumbest things. i feel she is ashamed to be black, hence why she identifies as just American…