An Open Letter To Raven-Symoné

raven symone
Credit: Fred Lee/ABC via Getty Images

Raven-Symone’s recent comments on a few topics has caused me to write an open letter to express my opinions on her latest actions.

Dear Raven-Symoné,

Are you okay? Are you seeking attention? Well you have mine because lately you have been in the spotlight for your controversial comments on the black culture.

Let’s date back to last year when you did an interview with Oprah Winfrey. You quickly became the topic of discussion when you said, “I’m tired of being labeled. I’m not African American, I’m just American.” I just find it funny how you grew up in front of the public eye and got famous on the premier black sitcom of our generation, called The Cosby Show. Not to mention, the creator of the show is African American.

But you don’t want to be identified as African American. I just feel like it’s disrespectful when people deny their race, ethnicity or culture because it’s basically denying your true identity.

And just to let you know, I am African American and I have no problem accepting myself for who I am.

Raven, what are you doing? I have been able to ignore your slip ups, like when you said that you are from “every continent in Africa expect for one.” I believe little Ms. Raven-Symoné didn’t pay attention in geography class.

However, I think your recent comments have pushed me over the edge. Yes, I know people will say and do anything to stay relevant but I was completely disgusted when you made a comment about “ghetto sounding names.”

In other words, if your parents decided to name you Laquan or Starletta, you don’t deserve to be employed because of a decision that your parents likely made before you even took your first breath.

It’s people like you who moan and make faces because the Baby Boomer generation took naming children to a whole new level of creativity. You sound like some of the elders in my family who say, “baby girl you won’t be able to work nowhere, but McDonald’s or some fast food restaurant with a name like that.”

So you mean to tell me, if I’m over qualified for a job, speak well, and dress well you wouldn’t hire me because of a name I was given? Oh, how rude of me I didn’t introduce myself. My name is Dashiyah [day-shy-yah] and in the words of Raven-Symoné my name is “ghetto.”

Personally, I tell people my nickname (Shiyah) is actually my real name because I figured it sounded less “ghetto.” But since you made that comment I have learned to love my name for what it is. I started to think how my name has actually shaped my identity and contributed to the person I am today.

I have been thinking, Raven. Would you hire one of these celebrities’ children who have names that would be considered “ghetto?”

For example, one of the wealthiest couples in the music industry, Jay Z and Beyoncé, named their child Blue Ivy: would you hire her? How about producer Pharrell Williams who named his son Rocket? I’m pretty sure if you ever gave them an internship at your place of business, you would hire them because of who they are and not because of their name. So why can’t you do the same for stereotypical black names such as LaKeisha, Shaquan or your example, Watermelondrea.

There are large amounts of black people who face disparities due to their names. That comment was so insensitive to people who have “ghetto sounding names” because it’s basically saying their name alone makes them unworthy of anything.

Raven, you taught me a valuable lesson that I am looking forward to teaching my children one day; it’s okay to be different. As individuals, we should always embrace our differences. Whether it’s our ethnicity, names or decisions as to how to solve problems, we must embrace our diversity because we will never all be the same.

Just a reminder Raven; choose your words carefully because the little Dashiyahs and Watermelondreas of the world are listening.

Signed,

Dashiyah G.

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