These “New Blacks” or “Brand New Negroes” as I have previously called them, are not particularly or original in either their struggle or their solution.
In Raven-Symoné’s case, her refusal to identify as a person of African descent feels like an internalization of anti-blackness offered up as a kind of cosmopolitan notion of race. That is in large part because I don’t feel “relegated” to Blackness. I was assigned blackness at birth, but I choose it each day as a political and cultural identity and set of commitments.
With great care, citizens were designated with a “C,” “M,” or “W,” for “colored,” “mulatto” and “white” respectively.
This week, iconic Cosby (grand)kid Raven-Symoné caught up with Oprah, telling her in an interview: “I don’t want to be labeled gay…. I’m an American, and that’s a colorless person.” It would be tempting to frame these recent remarks on race and gay identity from the Cosby Show and Disney star as just more ideal and myopic millennial musings on race.
I don’t know what country I’m from in Africa, but I do know I have roots in Louisiana.
To see one’s “dark” skin as limiting bears all the marks of the anti-black thrust of white supremacy.
This is an uncomfortable truth to tell in a world where more and more brown-skinned people are uncomfortable with the strictures of Blackness, hoping that 20 century racial identifications will loosen their vice grip on the current one.
If Raven throws off those political and cultural identifications, that is her right, but it is not without political implication or consequence.
And it is particularly ironic to see this queer Black girl refusing identifications that have been politicized and embraced in the world by other queer Black people attempting to make space for all these groups to exist as human.
But Raven-Symoné’s desires are also not to be understood outside of a long trajectory of Black people grappling with what Langston Hughes, a gay Black man, called “the racial mountain.” W. …aside from his color…your American Negro is just plain American.” In his 1961 essay, “The Discovery of What It Means to Be an American,” James Baldwin declared himself as “American as any Texas G.
I.” But he also cautioned that America like all societies “is really governmed by hidden laws, by unspoken but profound assumptions on the part of the people,” and that we (writers) should give ourselves to exposing them so that that we might be liberated from them.
well into Raven Symoné’s lifetime, this law was used to designate putatively white people as black.
Why then is the identity of “American” figured as the site of freedom and liberatory identity?
Last Wednesday the teen had theft charges against her dropped; she had been arrested in June and charged with felony grand larceny for allegedly stealing a ,995 Hermes Birkin handbag from a store in Bedford, New York.'I have been to court four times for this case.