How (Most) Real Housewives Stars Are Listening & Learning From the Death of George Floyd

I don’t typically turn to the stars of Real Housewives for political advice. In fact, most times that they start talking politics (hello, Season 9 of Real Housewives of New York), I do my best to let it wash over me like a pleasant, innocuous sound bath. But this week, as more people and organizations found themselves rightly compelled to speak out on behalf of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, I — and thousands of other dedicated Bravo viewers — turned to the Real Housewives stars to see how they would react. With the size of their platforms, and the diversity of political opinions they represent, the Housewives stars had an opportunity to make a powerful statement that George Floyd’s death was an issue all humans should care about — and the way they succeeded genuinely surprised me.

As a white person, I’ve been seeing (and sharing) a lot of instructions to listen and learn. This doesn’t mean you have an excuse not to speak up — at this point, silence is complicit — but when you do speak up, you have to be open to criticism that may come your way and be able to learn from it. RHONY‘s Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan were both harshly criticized for their earlier posts about the Black Lives Matter protests — Ramona for using the phrase “all lives matter” and Sonja on detracting attention from more serious issues by focusing on property destruction.

Singer and Morgan were both met with immediate backlash, a phenomenon they’re no doubt used to. The difference here? They listened to what readers had to say and came back with an edited, updated version of their message days later. Singer, in particular, has made it clear that she’s doing the work to be better, responding to commenters who continued to call her out on her “all lives” comment: “I wasn’t educated enough on the cause,” she told one follower. “And I’m sorry.”

Call me optimistic, but I’m not so sure these women would have been as receptive to changing their views a few years ago — the pressure from the rest of the world simply wasn’t there. Could the revisions of these stars’ social media posts  be written off as PR stunts? Of course — but the Housewives cast lives in the public eye 100% of the time, and I’d argue their making anti-racist statements of any kind on a public platform has value.

By and large, the responses of these stars were empathetic, though the Real Housewives of Orange County cast erred mostly on saying little or nothing at all. But these moments of watching growth happen in real-time are arguably more important than seeing celebrities repeat the same rhetoric they’ve used for years. The response of the Real Housewives stars to George Floyd’s death impressed me — not just because of what was said, but because they showed how many Americans might be ready and willing to learn and grow.

Ramona Singer

Ramona Singer first came under fire for her use of the phrase “all lives matter,” but she quickly took the feedback as learning opportunity and revised her language in upcoming posts, thanking those who had educated her on the way.

Sonja Morgan

Fellow RHONY cast member Sonja Morgan feels strongly about the destruction of property caused by looters and first focused her social media comments on that. But when fans called her out for detracting from the core issues, she changed her message like Ramona.

Jill Zarin

Jill Zarin made early comments about the “looting” she saw in NYC, but spoke up after hearing fans’ feedback that she was educating herself.

Kelly Bensimon

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You guys made me really angry this morning. I woke up to see the beautiful world through instagram, and what I saw was world of sadness. We are ALL IN THIS TOGETHER . America was built on possibility,-made for pioneers and mavericks who wanted a better life. We have all been isolated for over 131 days . It’s not easy on anyone. Everyone is filled with fear about the pending uncertainty. And yes, the riots are EXTREMELY disturbing, but are needed to implement change. To think a country built on the idea of FREEDOM is still questioning how to deal with protecting our citizens is disheartening. We are so conditioned to complain and not be proactive. HELP others whether it is by supporting your local @foodbank4nyc or showing a simple act of kindness. Be KIND, be PROACTIVE. Be the AMERICAN you tell people you are. #blacklivesmatter

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Kelly Bensimon seems on board for the Black Lives Matter movement, but she’s strongly criticizing how it’s being carried out. In one Instagram post, she criticizes activists for being too divisive; in another, she complains about the state of a Hamptons roadway.

Erika Jayne

Erika Jayne is in a tricky position due to her son being a cop — but shared strong support of the Black Lives Matter movement even so.

Nene Leakes

Nene expressed some initial concern about property damage (especially to a local mall with her store in it), but reinforced that her primary concern is for reinstating justice.

Garcelle Beauvais

Garcelle Beauvais made it very clear: if you’re not using your platform to fight racism, we’re not friends.

Porsha Williams

Porsha Williams is marching on the ground in Atlanta and shared powerful footage of herself being gassed with pepper spray.

D’Andra Simmons

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Everyone has been asking why I have not posted on what has happened again in our country. Tonight I am. I have been thinking on how to convey my thoughts. That is what I do. I am a thinker and a thoughtful person. What do I think? I think about my best friend since I was a teenager DeeDee, who is an African American woman, and her son Dylan, who I lovingly refer to as my nephew.  I think about him driving to college and worrying if today he’s going to come home safe and sound. I think about this world he has grown up in that his mom and I never discussed when we were young, because it never crossed our minds that we were different in any way. We just were. There are a lot of thoughts running through my head and yes, I am angry, I am disgusted, I am disappointed, and I am dismayed…just like you. I am sincerely worried that our country is on the brink of a war, and bitterness and hate is the new normal. *UPDATE: On Friday night at 7PM (Central Time), I am sitting down to talk with two of my oldest and dearest friends in the African American community, DeeDee Kirk and Michael Webb, on Instagram and Facebook Live. We are going to come together and discuss what is happening, what we can all do, and how to move forward to a better and more peaceful America with love and respect for everyone. I hope you will join us.‬ #SayHisName #BlackLivesMatter #OneLove #GeorgeFloyd #StrongerTogether #RHOD

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D’Andra Simmons posted a long reflection after conversations with African-American friends.

Camille Meyer

Camille Meyer was concerned about property destruction too, retweeting quotes about nonviolence from Martin Luther King Jr. and expressing her dismay over “continuing violence.”

Cynthia Bailey

Cynthia Bailey spoke up about the mischaracterization of protestors as violent: “Why am I not seeing more of this being covered on the news?”

Kandi Burruss

Kandi Burruss has been posting useful resources and links to donate on her Twitter all week.

Kim Zolciak

Kim Zolciak shared Nike’s targeted campaign: “For once, don’t do this.”

Taylor Armstrong

Taylor Armstrong, like Sonja Morgan, seemed unable to let go of her outrage over the looting and vandalism — but quickly clarified that, due to her close relationships with black people, her anti-racism stance shouldn’t be questioned.

Kenya Moore

Kenya Moore expressed her sincere grief at the racism epidemic in this country.

Jennifer Aydin

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It’s a shame that, in this point in time, these tragic and unnecessary acts of discrimination and loss of life are still happening today, especially from people who are supposed to “protect” us. Actually, those particular “officers” don’t even deserve to be called “people”. They are heartless scum. How can we move forward when we have these tragedies constantly sabotaging all the progress we’ve made, taking us backward??? Who’s life lost will make it enough? Yours? Mine? How about George’s? #Enough! Black does not equal threat! Black does not equal danger! Black is the description of the color of skin, not a description of behavior! So Say his name. George Floyd. #justiceforgeorgefloyd #justiceforahmaud #amycooper

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RHONJ‘s Jennifer Aydin went after the police specifically: “They are heartless scum.”

Teresa Giudice

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All my love & support. 🖤🙏🏻

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Teresa Giudice has been largely silent, but participated in blackout Tuesday.

Margaret Josephs

Margaret Josephs is reflecting on her white privilege and all the things she takes for granted.

Dolores Catania

Dolores Catania sends love to George Floyd’s family and prays that our nation can find its way to justice.

Jackie Goldschneider

Jackie Goldschneider said she was “heartbroken” over the deaths of George Floyd and others.

Emily Simpson

Emily Simpson expressed her shock after seeing George Floyd murdered and announced her intention to donate to his family.

Braunwyn Windham-Burke

Braunwyn Windham-Burke puts it into terms all moms can understand: what if this happened to your child?

Meghan King Edmonds

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I am so heartbroken and outraged by the death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers. It’s a tragedy for the Floyd family and it’s one more example of how systemic racism is something we all have a responsibility to address. This HAS to change – and the only way we’re going to ignite change is by relentlessly demanding it. It’s all of our responsibility. We can start by demanding justice for George Floyd right now. Yes, the four police officers were fired but that is simply not enough.⁣ ⁣ Please make it a point to have conversations with your friends and family about this incident, and what you think it says about the state of racial justice in our society today. Encourage your friends to have these conversations with their friends, family, and children, speak out loudly and clearly, and look for opportunities to be a true ally and force for change. 🙏🏼

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Meghan King Edmonds pleaded with her followers to have tough conversations with their family.

Kelly Dodd

Kelly Dodd shared a petition for justice for George Floyd.

Carole Radziwill

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• I’m with the protestors. So, don’t talk about broken windows that will be fixed next week, here. Don’t talk about looting, here. The only looting we should be talking about right now is the looting of black communities by our country for decades. The looting of their rights, the looting of their music, of their fashions, of their language, The appropriation of their culture. I believe we have heard from them loud and clear, all across the country. They are, “mad as hell and they are not gonna take it anymore.” (Points for anyone who knows that reference). • • So don’t talk your nonsense about ALL lives matter. If all lives mattered George Floyd would be alive today. Breonna Taylor would be alive. Ahmaud Aubrey would be alive. Botham Jean would be alive. The list goes on and on. We all need to end the ignorance. End the silence. Get educated and vote out these white nationalists that hold high office. One racist republican, (in Congress for 30 years!) just got thrown out in the Iowa congressional race yesterday. Keep going. One bird at a time. It makes a difference!! I'll post action items in stories and 🔗🔗to steps in bio. #BLM #blacklivesmatter ✌🏼️✌🏽️✌🏾️✌🏿️

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Carole Radziwill shared her Black Lives Matter support from the protests in NYC.

Aviva Drescher

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#justiceforgeorgefloyd

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Aviva Drescher shared a photo of protestors holding up their hands.

Bethenny Frankel

Bethenny Frankel has played a key role in securing PPE during the coronavirus crisis, and she’s been just as vocal supporting the George Floyd protestors.

Leah McSweeney

Leah McSweeney shared protest footage of a police officer attacking a peaceful protestor.

LuAnn DeLesseps

LuAnn DeLesseps echoed the rallying cry: “Say his name.”

Dorinda Medley

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#peacefulprotest #🙏🏻

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Dorinda Medley shared videos of the protests in New York with the message: “Black Lives Matter.”

Ashley Darby

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Friends, this has been a hard few days for me. I haven’t been the same person after watching that innocent man have his life stolen on a video posted to social media. For many people of color in this country, this has been a hard few CENTURIES. The reality of the situation is we are FED UP and a revolution is happening, out of need and necessity. The scariest thing for me is not knowing how long and at what cost justice will finally come. How many mothers and fathers will lose their babies to senseless violence and discrimination? It’s heartbreaking, for we should have never needed to have this conversation. If only one could rewrite history. Alas, I’ll come back to reality. Friends, please stay safe and remember the impact of financial support. WE REALLY ARE IN THIS TOGETHER. 👊🏽 #BlackLivesMatter #justiceforgeorgefloyd

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“We are FED UP and a revolution is happening,” Ashley Darby writes.

Karen Huger

Karen Huger’s message was short — but unmistakeable.

Gizelle Bryant

Gizelle Bryant shared how her kids were fighting back and stressed the importance of teaching your children about injustice from a young age.

Marlo Hampton

Marlo Hampton gave passionate instructions on how to get more involved with racism.

Phaedra Parks

Phaedra Parks called out all the nonblack allies who might be tempted to stay silent.

Eva Marcille

Candiace Dillard

Candiace Dillard came down hard, demanding we all acknowledge and address institutional racism now.

Robyn Dixon

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I pray justice is served 🙏🏽 I really can’t believe that I have to explain something like this to my boys; especially on the heels of #ahmaudarbery and #breonnataylor 💔💔💔 We must speak up and take action or else history will keep repeating itself! #icantbreathe #justiceforgeorgefloyd _____________________ ACTION STEPS FROM @shaunking #repost ・・・ 🚨ALL HANDS ON DECK🚨⁣ ⁣ Go now to JusticeForBigFloyd.com ⁣ We have built TWO ACTION STEPS for you to take. ⁣ ⁣ 🆘 First, call: 612-324-4499. ⁣ ⁣ That’s a special hotline that we built justice for this case. When you call you will hear my voice. I’ll coach you through the whole thing. And we will connect you to all of the people and offices that can arrest the men who murdered Big Floyd. ⁣ ⁣ Save that number. Lock it in. ⁣ ⁣ Then share it everywhere. Post it in your IG story and tag me and @grassrootslaw. ⁣ ⁣ Film yourself making the calls and tag us. ⁣ ⁣ 🆘 Second, Go to JusticeForBigFloyd.com or click the link in my bio and fill out our SUPER PETITION. It emails everybody involved. ⁣ ⁣ And it works. ⁣ ⁣ We built this tool for so many cases that we’ve gotten justice in, but we need it now for Big Floyd. ⁣ ⁣ Share this with everybody you know!!⁣ ⁣ Let’s GO!⁣ ⁣

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Robyn Dixon mourned the conversations she’ll have to have with her black sons because of these tragedies.

Monique Samuels

Monique Samuels was “numb” after yet another senseless tragedy with no repercussions.

Katie Rost

Katie Rost addressed the protestors in Seattle and gave them tips on how to stay safe.

Brandi Redmond

Brandi Redmond shared a Bible verse in honor of George Floyd.

Stephanie Hollman

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🙏🙏🙏

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Stephanie Hollman shared an MLK Jr. quote.

Kameron Westcott

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I’ve been speechless, I can’t think of anything to say that hasn’t been said. However, posting a graphic made by someone else with none of your own thoughts attached to it is equal to remaining silent. This is a nightmare I’m finding hard to accept is real. I am just a mother that happens to be on TV and have a platform, I am not a politician or an expert, that is why I try not to make comments on issues I don’t completely understand. I don’t want to believe our world, our people, are capable of such horrific acts of violence and hate, but enough is enough. I am working to become educated on these topics, as we all should be. What happened to George Floyd (and many others) was horrific. I pray for his family and this country as a whole. May we all stand together as one people, one unit, until justice is served and equality is mandatory nationwide.

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Real Housewives of Dallas‘ Kameron Westcott declared that “posting a graphic made by someone else with none of your own thoughts attached to it is equal to remaining silent.”

Kary Brittingham

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#blackouttuesday

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Kary Brittingham posted in support of blackout Tuesday.

Lisa Rinna

Lisa Rinna participated in blackout Tuesday, with an added message: “Vote.”

Kyle Richards

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Why is this still happening??! #georgefloyd

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Kyle Richards shared her disbelief: “Why is this still happening??!”

Dorit Kemsley

Dorit Kemsley called for an America that was equal for everyone, and added that talking to your kids about equality early was important.

Teddi Mellencamp

Teddi Mellencamp says it clearly: “None of us should be silent.”

Denise Richards

Denise Richards says her “heart aches” for George Floyd’s family.

Sutton Stracke

Sutton Stracke called out the Black Vision Collective for donations, a black, trans and queer-leg social organization.

Lisa Vanderpump

Lisa Vanderpump was devastated by the brutal videos we’ve seen in recent weeks.

Yolanda Hadid

Yolanda Hadid prayed for George Floyd to rest in peace.

Brandi Glanville

Brandi Glanville expressed her frustration with the breaking point they’d reached.

Heather Dubrow

Heather Dubrow called for the “atrocities” against black lives to stop.

Before you go, click here for kid-friendly movies and TV shows that educate about race and diversity. 

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