Type keyword(s) to search


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Bravo deserves credit for keeping Black Lives Matter's spirit alive on Real Housewives of New York and Married to Medicine

  • "It’s been a year since the Black Lives Matter protests, the largest movement in American history, with more than 4,700 marches in one month totaling up to 26 million Americans hitting the streets," writes Abdul-Jabbar. "We couldn’t watch the news or sports without Black Lives Matter being prominently featured. Professional athletes, politicians, rock stars and other celebrities signaled support. But as always with civil rights movements, the outrage and urgency has flagged. We can’t blame the COVID-19 crisis because those protests occurred when the pandemic was at its worst. Surprisingly, one outlet that has kept the BLM discussion alive and relevant is Bravo, on two of its reality shows: Real Housewives of New York City and Married to Medicine. A few years ago, I wrote about the lack of Black women on RHONY in a city that is only 42.7 percent white. This year, they have two Black women who have different approaches to how they see their role on the show. This difference has proved to be a dynamic reflection of how whites see BLM and their reactions to it. Married to Medicine, with its mostly Black cast, likewise has featured the BLM protests with some sincere and heartfelt experiences, but also some crass exploitation. Not only are these shows educating America about the broad spectrum of reactions from whites and Blacks, they’re keeping the spirit of the BLM protests alive when most others in the media have forgotten it. This season’s RHONY features two new Black castmembers: Eboni K. Williams and Bershan Shaw. (Disclaimer: As with any reality show, we can only discuss the edited representation of people on the show, which may be very different from who they are outside the show.) Williams brings an impressive background to the show: law degree, public defender, host of several TV news and culture shows. She also brings a personal mission: to educate the show’s women, as well as the audience, about African American history, culture and the pressing social issues facing them. The predictable reaction of some of the white women was that they felt lectured at and attacked. RHONY castmember Ramona Singer best embodies the clueless essence of Trumpian white privilege denial and 'I don’t see color' virtue signaling. While denying her own enabling of racism by pretending it barely exists, she also attempts to change the subject most of the time Williams brings it up." Abdul-Jabbar adds: "Now for the bad news. Both RHONY and Married to Medicine have had some of their lowest ratings this season. Of course, some would like to blame the discussions about race as the cause, even though other reality shows also have suffered declines in their ratings. It’s to Bravo’s credit that it took on the responsibility of continuing the BLM conversation long after most others abandoned it, even at the risk of it negatively affecting ratings. That is a form of activism that benefits us all."

    TOPICS: Eboni K. Williams , Bravo, Married to Medicine, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Black Lives Matter, Reality TV