Raven-Symoné: “I’m An American, Not An African-American”

I love Raven-Symoné. I always have. As Olivia, she was my favourite character on The Cosby Show (until the adult me realized the legendary-ness of Mrs. Claire Huxtable), I shared middle and high school years with her as Raven Baxter on That’s So Raven, and I even have some of her discography on my iTunes. But all of those things aside, I have loved Raven-Symoné as an individual who has always held a strong head on her shoulders despite whatever madness may be going on around her in celebrity culture.

So when I found out she sat down with Oprah for a “Where Are They Now?” segment, I knew I’d be all about it.

In this recently aired special, Raven stirred the waters when she said, “I’m an American, not an African-American.” Now before I dive into this loaded statement, I want to make sure you all understand the context in which she says it. In this case, Raven was answering a question Oprah was posing to her in regards to her sexual identity—since August 2013 when she made a tweet saying she could marry whomever she loves with the support of the government, Raven’s sexuality has been a question people have been dying to have an answer to.

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We Are One Beloved Community

Last week I was in Washington, DC to attend/volunteer for the National Black Justice Coalition’s OUT on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit, a four-day long summit that convened key stakeholders in the Black LGBT community, including elected officials, policy advocates, activists, and emerging leaders. To say it was an amazing experience would be an understatement—it was beautiful, uplifting, and most of all, empowering.

For the first time in my life, I was around people who both looked like me and identified in the same community, who I could reach out and talk to with open arms.

From the moment I walked in on the first day, I was embraced with a “hello” and a “Yasss honey, WERKK!” (in reference to my Beyoncé pin I adorned all week). From that moment on, I felt around family. Continue reading

Black Lives Matter: An American Call to Action

“I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” –Nelson Mandela

Where has August gone? I mean, really—where has it gone? I celebrated my one-year anniversary of moving back home to New York, and around the same time, I worked myself into a beginning stage of burning out. This is unsurprisingly common for young New Yorkers, but in my case, it came at a time where the rest of my world seemed to be set on fire.

The recent protests out of Ferguson, Missouri—stemming from the murder of unarmed 18-year old, Michael Brown, by police officer Darren Wilson—has shaken the ground of which we all walk on, and I stand in support with those protesting around the nation.

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