Actor, singer and now permanent talk show host for The View Raven-Symone is under fire on social media for making “discriminatory” statements by saying that she would never hire a person with a name like “Watermelondrea.”
Symone’s statement was made in response to a conversation started by Whoopi Goldberg over a study published in the Evolution & Human Behavior journal.
The study is about the way people react to some names, feeling that some names are prestigious while others are a looming threat, representing physically large persons through stereotypes. This is assuming the attribution of stereotypes by social rank and mechanisms of ancestral threat-representation.
The panel showed the last thirty seconds of a YouTube clip called “Top 60 Ghetto Black Names” where a couple of guys read off of a list of made-up names for comedic effect. After the clip, Raven-Symone was the first from the panel to contribute to the running gag by first establishing that it wasn’t racist but rather “discriminatory,” to which comedian Whoopi Goldberg agreed.
Raven-Symone then followed with her statement that she would not hire someone if they had similar names.
“And I am very discriminatory against words like the ones they were saying in the video. I’m not about to hire you if your name is Watermelondrea. It’s just not going to happen. I’m not going to hire you.”
Many of The View’s panelists have a history of lighting up social media with controversial comments such as those made by Raven-Symone, who previously made jarring comments about women on American currency.
Raven-Symone is herself, not very far from the controversial path as her career happens to have started as a child star on The Cosby Show. In 2015 alone, the bulk of accusations against the classic television sitcom’s central star, Bill Cosby, has been mounting up over the drugging and raping of women throughout the majority of his career.
While the panel of hosts were initially prompted to say what they would do, Raven-Symone’s response was seen as too off the mark because the name she made up was built around a fruit used as a stereotype for black people.
Among the criticism, Raven-Symone’s attempt at humor fell flat on its face — which was confirmed from Whoopi Goldberg’s subtle reaction to the comment — saying that it was more abrasive than funny.
However, most of the comments made against Raven-Symone ask her to consider the irony of discriminating against black-sounding names while not looking at her own.
One very proactive Twitter user did not hesitate to respond by creating an account under the same name Raven-Symone used in her example.
lookin like a pheonix talking bout she ain’t gon hire me. out here lookin like a low battery. charge ur weave sis pic.twitter.com/b2mXi9Z4PN
— Watermelondrea Jones (@WatermelondreaJ) October 8, 2015
Whether the statement made by Symone is actually offensive is up for debate, because, as a comedian, her statement would not have left the stage if she were doing a night club act. There is also no doubt that a different audience would also have reacted differently.
But Raven-Symone’s comment went past social media and into the editorials of more relevant media, with one article written by Ebony, thoroughly dousing Raven-Symone‘s incendiary comment with the same ironic fact of her own name, but in such a way as to break it down with African names and the hyphen Raven-Symone uses in hers.
While pointing this out however, even the writer for Ebony acknowledged, next to the phrase, “moment of honesty,” the difficulty in adjusting to those non-traditional names.
“I won’t pretend that I always had the best attitude about what are often called ‘hood’ or ‘ghetto’ names. When I was younger, I thought names like ‘Tamika’ and ‘Keisha’ were fine and pretty, but I didn’t much care for those that had harder consonant sounds and apostrophes.”
Raven-Symone has also been known to try and drive the conversation about her life into her own definition, in order to not be confined or labeled, much like the interview she gave on Oprah about coming out.
The panel also offered the fact that the child with the name had no choice and whether Raven-Symone’s comment was “mean.” But the anger from viewers at Symone’s statement is more over how quick she appears to dismiss anyone’s job prospects because of it and not just the irony and the racist stereotype.
It would appear that under Raven-Symone’s rules of identity, no one should be confined or labeled even if that “confinement” is of their own making. Social media however has decided that Raven-Symone’s statements are problematic for the show and have asked that she be removed from The View.
Symone’s first appearance on the show was in June of 2015, and there is no indication that she will be removed from the show as a result.
In June, 2014, Salon wrote an article about the status of the ABC show which could be used to reflect why Raven-Symone is a well-vetted and already an essential part of the program in that, when it refers to the reasons for why O’Donnell left it.
“The famous Rosie O’Donnell-Elisabeth Hasselbeck fight that prompted O’Donnell’s departure was about civilian casualties in the Iraq War — and the fact that neither O’Donnell nor Hasselbeck argued her case particularly clearly was part of the personality of the show.”
The statement by Raven-Symone and the public’s response is very much in line with the The View brand where it leaves the interpretation or consensus up to the viewer while still representing an audience who is uninformed about a variety of issues. This might explain why the response wasn’t necessarily on one side or the other on the air.
As a panel which has, over time, consisted of comedians such as former co-host O’Donnell and currently Whoopi Goldberg, the comedic contrast between the video and Raven-Symone’s comment, the video makes a better point. However, when referring back to the study that Whoopi started the segment with, Raven-Symone’s response is very true to what the study pointed out.
In other words, Raven-Symone isn’t the only one who won’t hire Watermelondrea.
The study is also included in an article by the Huffington Post with other studies that show Raven-Symone’s bias towards minorities. One could also make the case from this information that the reason the minorities in the study are seen as poverty-stricken is because they’re not being employed due to discrimination.
Even more articles on Symone’s hypocrisy have also referred to a study conducted by The National Bureau Of Economic Research in 2003, which shows discrimination of black-sounding names on resumes. And while some admit the study is a little out of date, there is also new evidence of this discrimination with an even more updated study as referred to in another article, this time by The Daily Mail, verifying Raven-Symone is only doing what people already do, to be “discriminatory,” as she’s acknowledged.
Raven-Symone’s new role on The View appears to only be appropriate, as she’s already proven to be a willing contributor to the conversation about current events when she was on other talk shows. While Symone has been outspoken before, she’s defining a certain view that is unique to Raven and no one else.
The panel clearly appreciates her addition to the group, even when she has a harsh perspective, because there’s a variety of engagement added to the show.
Following the discussion, Raven-Symone was involved in a food segment which would defuse almost any situations. Likely it would have done wonders for the heated argument between O’Donnell and Hasselbeck.
[Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images]