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 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.
Please stay on point guys. We are remembering George. Heal don’t hurt. 😢 Love is the answer not destruction.🤢
Let us learn from our mistakes and build so we may go forward stronger and smarter. Not backwards into… https://t.co/qxafAUp3Qr
— Sonja Morgan (@SonjatMorgan) May 31, 2020
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 made early comments about the “looting” she saw in NYC, but spoke up after hearing fans’ feedback that she was educating herself.
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 is in a tricky position due to her son being a cop — but shared strong support of the Black Lives Matter movement even so.
View this post on Instagram
Atlanta is BLACK POWER #stoptheviolence UPDATE TO THIS POST: When things like this happen, i just never know what to say or do! I literally be lost for words and afraid to say anything but hear this…DONT come on my page talking ignorant which is why i wasn’t posting on my page about the things happening but put them in my stories instead….The enemy wants us to burn down our neighborhoods! Don’t fall for it! DONT turn down the energy either….TRANSFORM IT! Organize & Protect the city! Good intentions here ok! #stoptheviolence #onelove #weallwegot #georgefloyd
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 made it very clear: if you’re not using your platform to fight racism, we’re not friends.
Porsha Williams is marching on the ground in Atlanta and shared powerful footage of herself being gassed with pepper spray.
D’Andra Simmons posted a long reflection after conversations with African-American friends.
What happened to George was horrific! We all feel sick and upset about it. But we need to stop the continuing violence in our cities. It’s not helping the cause. Very upsetting to all. 😞
— Camille Meyer (@TheRealCamilleG) May 31, 2020
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 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) May 31, 2020
Kandi Burruss has been posting useful resources and links to donate on her Twitter all week.
Kim Zolciak shared Nike’s targeted campaign: “For once, don’t do this.”
I am on the side of the innocent George Floyd and I am ashamed of the cop that killed that beautiful man who was only trying to buy food. Many of my long life friends are African American and family to me. I don’t see color only firemdship and family. https://t.co/8Kvbc8JsUD
— Taylor Armstrong (@TaylorArmstrong) June 3, 2020
— Taylor Armstrong (@TaylorArmstrong) June 3, 2020
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 expressed her sincere grief at the racism epidemic in this country.
RHONJ‘s Jennifer Aydin went after the police specifically: “They are heartless scum.”
Teresa Giudice has been largely silent, but participated in blackout Tuesday.
Margaret Josephs is reflecting on her white privilege and all the things she takes for granted.
Dolores Catania sends love to George Floyd’s family and prays that our nation can find its way to justice.
Jackie Goldschneider said she was “heartbroken” over the deaths of George Floyd and others.
I’m sickened and disgusted by the brutality and murder of #GeorgeFloyd … I watched the video of a man lying down peacefully, not fighting back, unarmed and gasping for breath … I’m horrified. Is there a fund for his family? I’d like to donate #GeorgeFloyd #rt #rhoc
— Emily Simpson (@EmilySimpson_OC) May 27, 2020
Emily Simpson expressed her shock after seeing George Floyd murdered and announced her intention to donate to his family.
If you killed my child I’d burn the entire world down with my bare hands, if you think revolutions are quiet get off Twitter and read a history book.
— Braunwyn Windhamburke (@braunwyn) May 29, 2020
Braunwyn Windham-Burke puts it into terms all moms can understand: what if this happened to your child?
Meghan King Edmonds
Meghan King Edmonds pleaded with her followers to have tough conversations with their family.
Please take just 10 seconds from your day and sign this if you haven’t already … https://t.co/Y1o0nDbf73
— Kelly Dodd (@RHOC_KellyDodd) May 29, 2020
Kelly Dodd shared a petition for justice for George Floyd.
Carole Radziwill shared her Black Lives Matter support from the protests in NYC.
Aviva Drescher shared a photo of protestors holding up their hands.
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 shared protest footage of a police officer attacking a peaceful protestor.
LuAnn DeLesseps echoed the rallying cry: “Say his name.”
Dorinda Medley shared videos of the protests in New York with the message: “Black Lives Matter.”
“We are FED UP and a revolution is happening,” Ashley Darby writes.
— Karen Huger (@KARENHUGER) May 30, 2020
Karen Huger’s message was short — but unmistakeable.
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 gave passionate instructions on how to get more involved with racism.
Phaedra Parks called out all the nonblack allies who might be tempted to stay silent.
When those w/ the power to do so start acknowledging the INSTITUTION of racism and condemning it out right. Not dancing around it, talking around it in macro language. It ends by holding your racist relatives&friends accountable at the dinner table. It starts with open dialogue. https://t.co/Z2pTGnjDo4
— Candiace Dillard Bassett (@candeegal) May 31, 2020
Candiace Dillard came down hard, demanding we all acknowledge and address institutional racism now.
Robyn Dixon mourned the conversations she’ll have to have with her black sons because of these tragedies.
Monique Samuels was “numb” after yet another senseless tragedy with no repercussions.
Katie Rost addressed the protestors in Seattle and gave them tips on how to stay safe.
Brandi Redmond shared a Bible verse in honor of George Floyd.
Stephanie Hollman shared an MLK Jr. quote.
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 posted in support of blackout Tuesday.
— lisa rinna (@lisarinna) June 2, 2020
Lisa Rinna participated in blackout Tuesday, with an added message: “Vote.”
Kyle Richards shared her disbelief: “Why is this still happening??!”
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 says it clearly: “None of us should be silent.”
Denise Richards says her “heart aches” for George Floyd’s family.
Sutton Stracke called out the Black Vision Collective for donations, a black, trans and queer-leg social organization.
Such sadness as we witness these awful images .. justice has to be served quickly.
— Lisa Vanderpump (@LisaVanderpump) May 30, 2020
Lisa Vanderpump was devastated by the brutal videos we’ve seen in recent weeks.
Yolanda Hadid prayed for George Floyd to rest in peace.
I am so heartbroken right now I literally want to scream from the rooftops! This country has come to a fucking breaking point. There have been decades of documented police abuse toward the black community and yet… https://t.co/iMxu6tpTrb
— Brandi Glanville (@BrandiGlanville) June 1, 2020
Brandi Glanville expressed her frustration with the breaking point they’d reached.
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.