While Rachel Dolezal sticks by her identity as “black”, despite her Czech, German and Swedish ancestry, plenty of celebrities have trouble with that label, and aren’t afraid to discuss it publicly, despite social media backlash.
Find out more about the celebrities who don’t consider themselves black, and decide for yourself if their reluctance has to do with personal beliefs or with the hope that they’re living in a post-racial world. Here are a few celebrities who reject the “black” label altogether.
After growing up on the set of “The Cosby Show”, Raven-Symone courted controversy when she dropped hints about her sexual orientation, and only came out in support of gay marriage.
However, in a discussion with Oprah, she refused to identify as black or gay, explaining that: “I’m tired of being labeled. I’m an American. I’m not an African-American; I’m an American… I’m a colorless person.”
With a Dominican father a Pueto Rican mother, Zoe Saldana took a stand in a BET interview, claiming that “there’s no such thing as people of color.” The “Guardians of the Galaxy” star is one of the celebrities who don’t consider themselves black. “I feel like as a race, that’s a minute problem against the problems we face just as women versus men, in a world that’s more geared and designed to cater towards the male species,” she explained.
The biracial actor known for his roles in “The Young and the Restless” and “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”, also rebelled against the label of “black actor”. “I’m very proud to be Black, but I’m just as much Black as I am white,” he told Indiewire, referring to his mother’s Irish and French-Canadian ethnic background.
Some celebrities who don’t consider themselves black cite biracial parents or other ancestors, and that’s exactly Rihanna’s stance. The singer, born in Barbados to a black Caribbean mother and a biracial Caribbean father, told Ellen that she was teased by black girls as a child for being biracial.
The R&B singer’s initial reluctance to participate in the Black Girls Rock! award show was followed by a lot of criticism on Twitter. Keyshia Cole explained that she hesitated because she wasn’t sure she’s black, then decided to embrace the label on BET’s “106 & Park”, declaring that “I’m biracial, but it’s OK. I’m Black.”
The rapper was raised by his Jewish Canadian mother, after she divorced his African-American father when Drake was 5 years old. He’s one of the celebrities who don’t consider themselves black, and explained that he cherishes his entire heritage. “I get a lot of love everywhere in the world for just being diverse, instead of just being straight out [one thing]. I’m all mixed up and people embrace that,” he told The Village Voice.
Despite the fact that he’s widely considered the most successful African American professional golfer, Tiger Woods doesn’t like to be labeled. When he discusses his ethnic background, it’s always “Cablinasian”, a term that brings together his Caucasian, Black, American Indian, and Asian ancestry.
You might think the Academy Award winner is the first African-American Miss World entrant in 1986, but she’s actually one of the celebrities who don’t consider themselves black. With a Caucasian mother and an African-American father, Berry identifies as biracial.
After winning “The Face”, model Devyn Abdullah caused a controversy by declaring “I’m not a black girl model,” and adding that she wants to be an “international” model. She later explained her comment to Clutch magazine. “All I can say is that I’m sorry if I offended somebody but that’s not what I meant whatsoever. It’s clear that I’m a black woman,” Abdullah said.
The actor and musician, who’s set to replace Reggie Watts on IFC’s “Comedy Bang Bang”, is also one of the celebrities who don’t consider themselves black. Born Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi, with a black mother and African-American and Mexican heritage on his father’s side, Cudi identifies as biracial.