Keshia Knight Pulliam has spoken out about her former The Cosby Show co-star Raven-Symoné’s “ghetto” names statement on The View last week.
Pulliam, who starred in the long-running sitcom with Symoné from 1984 until its finale in 1992, addressed the controversy that followed the show’s Thursday (Oct. 8) broadcast after the former That’s So Raven star said that she would not hire an individual with a name like “Watermelondrea.”
“I guess she wouldn’t have hired me. I’ve got about the most ethnic name you can have!” Pulliam told HuffPostLive’s Nancy Redd. Symoné’s controversial comments came during the show’s segment entitled “Are You Judged By Your Name.” During the heated debate, the actress vehemently stated that she refuses to hire those with names similar to Watermelondrea, and claimed that deciding against doing so is not racist, but “discriminatory.”
“Just to bring it back, can we take back ‘racist’ and say ‘discriminatory,’ because I think that’s a better word,” she said. “And I am very discriminatory against words like the ones that were said 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,” she declared.
Symoné, who appeared surprised by her co-hosts’ shocked reactions, faced immediate backlash online after users, including FOX Sports host Mike Hill, criticized her for being “confused” and uneducated. Pulliam, 35, said that she feels for her former co-star who experienced an atypical upbringing in Hollywood.
“It’s challenging having grown up the way she did. So from the other side of the coin, I empathize with her, where anything that she says and does is under the microscope,” she said. “So I’m not here to judge her or to bash her or anything like that. Ultimately, Raven has to kind of find her own and do it her own way.”
Three days after her comments aired, Symoné posted a lengthy apology on her Facebook page where she admitted that the comments were in “poor taste” and said that she, too, has experienced discrimination in the past.
“I have been denied many jobs because of my skin color, body size, and age. Each time I was rejected, my self esteem was negatively effected, so I empathize with those who feel victimized by what I said,” she wrote. “We would hope that when it comes to hiring, our names, physical appearance, sexual orientation, and age would never outweigh our qualifications, but often times, they do, thats the truth and it sucks. But I should not be part of the problem, I should be part of the solution.”
Still, Pulliam said that Symoné’s beliefs are her own, regardless of whether or not others share the same convictions.
“On a show like ‘The View,’ that’s what they do. They sit around and they have conflicting opinions and they argue their opinions, so at the end of the day, it’s about being your authentic self,” she said. “And if that is authentically her opinion, it’s hers. It doesn’t mean that I have to agree with it or you have to agree with it, or anyone else.”