I’ve been a fan of Bravo’s “Real Housewives” from the beginning, particularly the New York and New Jersey franchises. Small cities in their very own methods, I’ve turn into good mates with a number of of the housewives in actual life through the years, too. In reality, if you happen to squint laborious sufficient, you could spot me in early episodes, chatting nonchalantly with different Friends-of-Housewives within the background because the cameras rolled.
I’m at present catching up on the thirteenth season of the “Real Housewives of New York” and proud to see that Bravo’s hometown franchise has welcomed its first black solid member, Eboni K. Williams.
Adding the primary black “RHONY” solid member isn’t the one manner Bravo is reportedly reckoning with race points and ethnic variety each on display screen and behind the scenes.
“People haven’t talked about race and ethnicity to the extent that they’ve talked about it this season,” Bravo’s govt vice chairman of present programming, Shari Levine, advised Vulture.
Nowhere is that this extra prevalent than on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” which just aired the ultimate “Reunion” episode of its personal thirteenth season. The present adopted its all-black solid, together with fan-favorite Porsha Williams, her Black Lives Matter activism and her personal arrest calling for the arrest of the officers chargeable for the taking pictures of Breonna Taylor. Williams’ activism didn’t go unnoticed by Bravo execs. Page Six revealed this week that Bravo greenlighted a three-part collection for her, spotlighting her activism and household life.
Bravo to Bravo for its reckonings on race. But the community has but to reckon with a unique sort of obvious bias from a few of solid members: tacit antisemitism.
At Williams’ Baby Blessing Dinner in September 2018 with then-partner Dennis Mckinley, Student Minister Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad, the Southern Regional Representative of The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and The Nation of Islam, posed for a photograph with the couple. He then posted the image with a post that read: “It was a honor to share some words based on what the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has taught us!!”
Around the identical time, McKinley praised Williams together with a video on Instagram of Farrakhan and the message: “Let the dynasty begin….together we buil️d… The home is not a woman’s place, it’s her base. Her place is wherever her gift will take her if she is free to be who she really is.”
Last July, the Anti-Defamation League referred to Farrakhan as “the most popular antisemite in America.” In 2019, Facebook and Twitter suspended his accounts, citing his hateful rhetoric as a cause.
Sharrieff Muhammad denies Farrakhan is an antisemite, however does so whereas promoting the Nation of Islam’s three-volume “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews,” which falsely asserts that Jews are chargeable for the slave commerce, that the Holocaust by no means occurred, that Jews management the federal government, media and the financial system, and lots of different conspiracies refuted by historians and condemned as purely antisemitic.
Farrakhan himself has an odd manner of defending his hatred of Jews — and his homophobia. At his Million Man March in 2015, Farrakhan falsely claimed “Jews in Hollywood” had “single handedly made same sex marriage legal.” Then, talking of Jews, he added: “You’re God’s chosen people?! You’ve lost your covenant status! You are not the chosen of God, you are the chosen of Satan!”
Sadly, Porsha Williams and former “RHOA” solid member Phaedra Parks helped promote the Million Man March. In a September 2015 Facebook submit, Sharrieff Muhammad thanked “my dear Sister Phaedra and Porsha of The Real Housewives of Atlanta” for serving to to “push” the occasion.
Parks, who’s rumored to be rejoining the “RHOA” solid subsequent season, has referred to as Farrakhan a “great mentor” and “close friend.” She has even boasted of filming scenes with Farrakhan for “RHOA” which (fortunately) by no means aired.
I’m not accusing Williams or Parks of being antisemites. I can’t know what’s of their coronary heart. And Parks has finished her half to wish her “Jewish brothers and sisters” a straightforward quick on Yom Kippur.
But I additionally do not consider for a second that Andy Cohen, govt producer of the Real Housewives franchise and the face of Bravo — and the person who introduced “Mazel” into the vernacular — is unaware of the unease many viewers would really feel understanding these solid members’ shut connections to Farrakhan and his ilk. Cohen himself is each Jewish and homosexual, two identities Farrakhan has deep contempt for.
Nevertheless, a 2015 picture of “RHOA” solid members on the Million Man March remains on the Bravo website. Perhaps Bravo’s 2021 “reckoning” can proceed by eradicating that image ASAP. And if Williams is to concentrate on activism as her new three-part collection suggests, maybe she will be able to start by taking a better have a look at the corporate she retains.
Melanie Notkin is the creator of “Otherhood: Modern Women Finding a New Kind of Happiness.”