If you find yourself rolling your eyes every time Raven-Symoné talks on The View, you’re not the only one. More than 127,000 people have signed a petition to have the former Disney Channel star removed from the popular ABC show’s panel. Why? Because she is only saying “what white people want,” according to the document.
“Raven Symoné has been spouting her ignorant and self hating spiel on the view for Long [sic] enough, from stating that she wouldn’t hire somebody for having a ghetto name, to openly complaining about reverse racism,” the petition reads. “… African Americans and black people around the diaspora need a voice representative of their views and not a voice representative of what white people want us to say. We need strong black role models in prominent positions on television … Raven Symoné cannot provide that.”
But does this have merit? On the one hand, we agree. Raven routinely plays devil’s advocate when race issues come up on the show. Most recently, she criticized the black female student who was dragged by a school resource officer at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina. “You’ve got to follow the rules in school,” she said. Plus, Ms. Symoné publicly told Oprah Winfrey she doesn’t identify as an African American, but simply an American—nor does she choose to label her sexuality. And who can forget when Raven quipped she wouldn’t hire someone if her name was Watermelondrea? (She later apologized for being so laissez-faire about name discrimination.)
Choosing to refute labels might seem progressive at first, but it actually harms communities in the long run. Minorities need strong public figures who are proud to identify as X, Y or Z. These role models are more inclined to raise awareness of injustices on large platforms. And is Raven doing that?
On the other hand, should Raven be crucified for giving her honest opinions? After all, that is exactly why The View producers hired her in the first place. ABC responded to the petition with this statement: “We love Raven. She is confident, genuine and opinionated, all qualities that make her a great addition to the panel.” Her viewpoints may be controversial, but we live in America. She has the First Amendment right to spew this nonsense, even if we don’t agree with it.
It all comes down to representation. In 2015, which black role models are needed in pop culture? We need ones who acknowledge the problems their community faces and strongly advocate reform. Raven 100 percent has the right to say what she wants. Should she be fired from The View for having extreme opinions? Not necessarily. However, a good solution might be bringing on a third black co-host to acknowledge the blind spots in Raven’s beliefs. Let us know what you think in the comments below.