| Media |

Raven-Symoné Defends Univision Host's Racist Comment: "Some People Look Like Animals"

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

News of popular Univision host Rodner Figueroa being sacked after comparing First Lady Michelle Obama's appearance to that of the cast of the Planet of the Apes shook Latin media last week, but it's only now making its way through the mainstream English-language media. The topic became hot on Monday's edition of The View, which was guest-hosted by former child star Raven-Symoné. While the show's only Latina host, Rosie Perez, used the opportunity to discuss anti-black racism in the Latin community, Raven-Symoné dismissed the controversy by claiming that "some people look like animals."  

Perez, who made her film breakthrough in Spike Lee's seminal Do the Right Thing, seemed ashamed that Figueroa's remark came from a fellow Latino. 

“There is a secret in the Latin community, specifically the Caribbean, South American, Central American Latin community. They are very racist,” Perez, a Puerto Rican, said. “They never want to be in the same group as black people. And it’s very, very sad. And he did say Michelle Obama looked like a cast member of The Planet of the Apes.”

Figueroa made his remark on the Miami-based show El Gordo y la Flaca when panelists were discussing a male makeup artist who turns himself into painted likenesses of female celebrities, including the FLOTUS. The fired host's subsequent public mea culpa came in the form of an open letter to Mrs. Obama, in which he claimed he was comparing the makeup artist's depiction of her — not the first lady herself — to an ape. 

Perez dismissed Figueroa's excuse by pointing out that he said specifically "Michelle Obama looks like a cast member of Planet of the Apes." 

"But was he saying it racist-like?" Raven-Symoné interjected. "He said he voted for her later. I don't think he was saying it racist." 

Fellow guest host comedian Michelle Collins pointed out that Figueroa is openly gay, biracial, and a comedian. Perez was not having any of it. 

"I am the Latin person here on this table, and I would like to tell you that it was racist, period," an insistent Perez said. "The thing is this is a problem in the Latin community that we do not talk about, that we do not address, and it is real and it was revealed by this man's statement." 

"Michelle, don't fire me from this right now, but some people look like animals," Raven-Symoné replied. "Is that rude? I look like a bird. I look like a bird, so can I be mad if somebody calls me Toucan Sam?" 

Raven-Symoné made headlines in October when she told Oprah that she was in a romantic relationship with another woman and that she doesn't like to use the labels "gay" and "African-American." 

Moderator Whoopi Goldberg, one of the most lauded comedians of the past few decades, ended the conversation by telling Figueroa that if he doesn't have the talent to figure out how to make a particular joke, he shouldn't make it. 

On social media, the reaction to the exchange has been equally heated. 

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.