Coffee Rhetoric: Thats So Raven: Raven-Symoné Won't Hire You If Your Name is Too 'Ghetto' Despite Her Own

October 10, 2015

Thats So Raven: Raven-Symoné Won't Hire You If Your Name is Too 'Ghetto' Despite Her Own

I been gone for a minute, now I’m back with the Jump off.  And what better way to dive back in than through unfettered snark aimed at a short-sighted celebrity’s misguided ways?

The last time I expended energy on our, now be-cockatooed , friend Raven-Symoné, she engaged Oprah Winfrey in a bold (and awkwardly worded) ramble about her identity, and how she’d rather be considered as American rather than African-American. Despite Oprah offering Raven an opportunity to clarify her comments, she stood her ground and let her awkward, hippy-dippy b.s. ride the wave of stupidity.

Since my aforementioned post, Raven has been christened as the latest co-host on ABC’s The View (another in a revolving door of hosts), and her newly minted position has enabled her to curse us with several gaffes in-between being an American with a "nice, interesting grade of hair" and now. Perched on a nationally televised platform, with the Blackety-Black name Raven-Symoné, our sad clown has seemingly committed herself to playing The View’s resident Supreme Troll… a crown she quickly made haste, and snatched from Whoopi Goldberg--'cause let's be real, despite intermittent moments of clarity, Whoopi says some simple-minded shit too.
Her tour of every continent in Africa, except one complete, and with time to reflect, Raven has opted to use her wisdumb to co-sign foolishness, eschew nuance or reason during show discussions, and flail around like a disoriented bird that’s flown into a glass door. And she’s content flitting through the world from the lens of a New-fangled Black woman, ensconced in a gilded cage. 

Raven’s latest fuck up? During The View’s ‘Hot-Topic’ segment, in which the panel of hosts  discussed a recent study released in the Journal of Evolution and Human Behavior about the impact Black names have on the way white people think of us (surprise), the actress gleefully posited (before insisting that the word ‘discriminatory’ be used in place of ‘racist’) that she’d refuse to hire a, presumably, Black person for a job, if their name sounded too ethnic.  Raven guffawed and shifted about in her seat as she farted,
“…I am very discriminatory against words like the ones that they were saying in those names. I’m not about to hire you if your name is Watermelandrea. It’s just not gon’ happen! I’m not gonna hire you!” the actress cackled.



Raven’s position on ‘ghetto’ names even made Whoopi (she of a host of unpopular, and often coontastic, opinions) clutch her proverbial pearls and look off into the distance. And the irony of a Black woman named Raven-Symoné, sitting on a nationally televised platform with an unconventional look—her hair styled in a flaming red mohawk—and whose own brother is named Blaize, describing how she’d willfully discriminate against another Black person for having a nontraditional name, isn’t lost on me.

Also not lost on me, is how the work of White Supremacy will sometimes attract allies of folks who aren’t white; and how a woman in Raven’s position seems adamant about using her platform to further racial tropes about those Black people who exist outside her purview,—Watermelandrea? Really, Raven? What a way to uphold unsavory images of Black folks. Those View checks must be out of this world—but alas, feigning ignorance about the violence of systemic racism, resource hoarding, and discriminatory hiring practices seems to be the New Black way for a segment of rich Black folks, unless a situation affects them personally. Notwithstanding the stories of Black folks with conventional names, who've had to code-switch during phone interviews, made it to phase two, and then suddenly found themselves out of the running when they show up to potential job sites for the in-person meet-and-greet. 

Admittedly, while there are some unconventional names, in general, that may give some of us pause (and are usually given to rich celeb kids with secure futures), there is never any excuse to disqualify, or further marginalize, a Black person from a job because of their name or because of white discomfort or internalized racism. And as someone with a pretty standard name that was relatively popular in the 80s and 90s, I can’t tell you how many times people (read: white people) have opted to mispronounce it, solely based on the fact that I’m Black.

Our names are what they are and Black folks don't have a lock on zany ones. For better or (what’s presumed to be) worse, they’re what make us unique… they’re our signatures and we make the best of our lives with our given monikers. I’m sure that’s something Oprah, Barack, Condeleezza, Quvenzhané, and even Raven-Symoné can attest to.