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Raven-Symoné Explains Why She Doesn't Identify as African American

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Nathaniel Welch

As Oprah Winfrey predicted, Raven-Symonéset Twitter on fire” last year after saying she does not consider herself to be African-American.

And nine months after her interview with Winfrey, the View co-host is still defending her desire to simply be called “American.”

“I don’t like labels, but everyone needs them to understand what is going on. So, okay, I get it. Give me ‘American.’ There is nothing wrong with being an American, purely,” the former Cosby Show star tells PEOPLE in the magazine’s latest issue.

The concept of labels is hot topic for Symoné, who is dating model-actress AzMarie Livingston and prefers to be called a “human who loves humans” rather than “gay.”

“I think that there are a lot of different races that fall under ‘American,’ so past that you really just are sub-categorizing me over and over again,” says the Disney veteran. “I’m not disowning my history in any way. My family has been here for almost 400 years. We’re American.”

Not that she’s looking to convert anyone to her way of thinking.

“This is me and what I feel about myself. But if you identify as African-American, then you’re African-American,” she says. “What right do I have to tell you what you are and what you’re not?”

For more from Raven-Symoné, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday