Raven-Symoné’s Controversial Comments
I initially entitled this post, Raven-Symoné Forgot Where She Came From; but then I quickly realized that she didn’t forget anything. We did. Her privilege has her so far-removed from her blackness, that we really shouldn’t be surprised by her comments–ever. Success makes it easy for some to forget where they came from; but in her defense, she was little when stardom hit. The concept of ‘the struggle’ eludes her. I’m old enough to remember Raven on the Cosby Show as little Olivia Kendall. That show introduced her to the world. It was her big break. For those of you who don’t remember, this was during a time when whatever Billy Cosby touched turned to gold. So if he hadn’t pushed for Raven to be on his show when she was little, she may not have been as successful as she ended up. Look at her now. She’s on The View. All grown up, and smelling herself; yet still fortunate enough to live with the benefit of being 100% herself–mostly without prejudice, because of her status. Even still, she has admitted to being discriminated against because of her color and size. With that being said, I find it difficult to imagine that she wouldn’t reach down to bring someone else up–who like herself, had no say in what name appeared on their birth certificate. Unbelievable. Of course I’m reflecting back to the episode of The View a few months back, when Raven-Symoné said she wouldn’t hire someone if their name was Watermelondrea. Her comment went viral, and reignited a societal debate on discrimination that refuses to die.
I say “shame on society,” for not taking the opportunity to discuss why in 2015, there are people who still equate ‘ethnic’ names with violence, or other negative behaviors. It’s disappointing. And rather than discuss staggering results from a UCLA study, we as a society honed in on a distraction–via a pawn named Raven-Symoné…smh. **It is worth noting that participants from the study disproportionately envisioned men presumed to be Black–based solely on name–as bigger and more violent. Oh how I would have preferred seeing this as a relevant and trending social media topic, over the ridiculousness of the status quo.
Recall that Raven had a guest spot on the hit show Empire. She was offered the role after stopping by the set to visit her friends; but after her recent comments, I can’t help but wonder if she would feel any differently if a Casting Director expressed similar sentiments toward her co-workers. Some of the crew have atypical names, i.e. Bryshere, Jussie, Trai, Taraji, Gabourey, Ta’Rhonda, Serayah, and AzMarie. Seriously, where would they be if someone with Raven’s views were calling the shots? The Season 2 premier of Empire garnered 16.2M views! I don’t think anybody cared what the character’s real names were. We just wanted to know if Lucious was going to jail, and if the family figured out that Cookie snitched her way out of prison.
Lets be real for a minute. People of all races can be a little extra when it comes to naming children. That’s not even the real problem here. This is clearly an issue of class, and the sense of entitlement that sometimes accompanies it. “Those who have, can [do whatever the hell they want].” And it’s viewed as okay. The masses will applaud you as a standout–even with a name like Rocky Horror, Sage Moonblood, or Pilot Inspektor. But start out as a ‘nobody’ with nothing, and have a name brandishing a few accent marks and hyphens, and you’re considered a hot, ghetto mess. This is all too much. My head hurts; and now I’m asking myself “why am I wasting time trying to decipher Raven Symoné’s thoughts?”
So as I come to a close, I want everyone to be reminded that parents typically put a lot of thought into choosing a child’s name. Parents are striving for uniqueness, and have been naming kids weird sh!t for years. It’s because we want our kids to stand out amongst their peers. If we lived in a perfect world, character and accomplishment would determine our worth; but as I’ve seen it, children born to wealthier parents get judged less severely by society (can you say Affluenza?). Your name could be Boo-boo Kitty, and you’d still get the job…