A response to Raven-Symoné

In the process of me not doing all the required work I should be doing in grad school, I came across this mildly viral video of Raven-Symoné “denouncing her labels.”

R: ” I don’t want to be labeled gay, I want to be labeled as a human who loves other humans. I don’t want to be labeled African American, just American”

At first I didn’t know how to feel about it. Of course you don’t want labels, especially as a minority in the United States. Being labeled gay in the scheme of privilege takes you to a minority status, that’s just the way this country works. Being black in this country means you do not inherently carry privilege, it means you’ve grown up aware of your racial standing, that’s just how this country works.

Here’s the thing Raven, we cannot escape the labels by denouncing them, nor can we help the current situation by avoiding them. You have a unique opportunity being a gay celebrity, especially an African American one. You can normalize the presence of a gay black woman, you can illuminate the struggles and be a leader. It’s a tough road, one with many obstacles but you could change the lives of so many youth.

Being labeled gay in the same country still fighting for the basic human rights of said group is rough. Believe me I know; accepting your minority status is a tough part of life, especially when you inherited that status already because the melanin in your skin. But the first and essential part of change is making sure that becoming the norm, making ourselves visible, making our struggle visible, will begin the wheels of change.

See Raven, you aren’t the ideal of American; this may come with kickback I know, but you’re not. You are not a white-hetero-male, the group you belong to will not be afforded the same inherent status in the American schema. Regardless if you avoid the labels, the terrible things that happen to those labels still exist. Females still will get paid 77 cents on the dollar to a male, the LGBTQ community is still not recognized nationally as legitimate, African Americans will still have a better chance of going to prison than any other group. We cannot be afforded the unifying label of human until we are actually recognized as one.

Eric R. Anglero
Masters of American Studies, RSCNJ


Eric Anglero
Masters of American Studies RSCNJ
July 10, 2014

ESPN the magazine often doesn’t sustain itself as one of my favorite reads. In the intensely objectifying world we live in, they play to the same rules to sell magazines. But the annual body issue has always been a landmark for me. Yes, it does show some ridiculously fit athletes who are at the top of their perspective games, but it also shows real-ness. It shows the existence of stretch marks and tattoos and big legs and wide shoulders and it is so beautiful.

As a large man of color myself I couldn’t help but to feel some existential pride seeing Prince Fielder on the cover. He is a big man, with wide shoulders and a large build, he always has been. People will say some insensitive shit about this but to me, when this hits shelves this week, people will see it. They will see a big man strutting his stuff on the cover of one of the biggest sports magazines ever.

I grew up playing sports as a big kid, always feeling like I had to prove something; That I wasn’t being respected because of my weight. It took some mental fortitude to take the abuses and keep moving. Prince represents one of the best players in his particular craft and while he still faces the stigma, he still consistently proves people wrong.

This issue also says a big “fuck you” to traditional beauty. He’s big and colored and tattooed and, in my eyes, a representative of me and people like me. I truly hope this one magazine cover becomes the start of a new perception in mainstream athleticism and beauty. Be big, be skinny, be different, be who you are and fucking love yourself, you’ve earned it.