“You’re very articulate. I don’t know if anyone has ever told you that,” Heather Thomson said casually to Eboni in The Real Housewives of New York’s episode six. It was meant as a compliment, but I could only imagine the gargantuan effort it took Eboni not to stare directly at the camera and give us that look. It was the second triggering microaggression directed at her that night, and after standing up for herself the first time in a war of words with Luann de Lesseps, she simply didn’t have the energy to educate her fellow white castmate on the exact same issue, again.
These experiences are all too familiar for people of colour who know how exhausting it is to continuously have to educate people on why microaggressions are hurtful. It’s almost easier to just laugh it off or ignore it and keep it moving. That’s not the case with Eboni. In only five episodes, she’s proven that she will not ignore microaggressions, intolerance, ignorance or anything of the sort. In a moving op-ed penned for USA Today, she’s shown she’ll take confronting the issues a step further.
Eboni refuses to be labelled ‘the angry Black woman’ by her castmates
In the piece, she addresses Luann calling her ‘angry’ for speaking in the same manner that her fellow castmates do when they’re passionate about an issue. Just moments before her and Luann’s argument, Leah McSweeney cursed out the entire group, calling them ‘hoes’ before storming off. No one called her angry. It was clear to viewers like me that Eboni was being labelled because of the ‘angry Black woman’ stereotype. Eboni was ‘angry,’ and Leah was not, even though Leah was expressing her emotions more outward and offensively.
“To presume me to be angry is to strip me of my humanity and to strip me of my ability to experience the full range of human emotion – including pain and frustration, all of which are uniquely different from anger,” she writes. It was a sentiment she had tried to explain to Luann in the episode, but kept getting lost in the argument.
To presume me to be angry is to strip me of my humanity and to strip me of my ability to experience the full range of human emotion – including pain and frustration, all of which are uniquely different from anger.
She goes on to recount an experience at a Shabbat dinner with friends where was asked a poignant question: what are you willing to die for? After some deep thought, the answer came to her. “I would die in exchange for my fellow Americans being able to sit with that ability to hold space for one another’s pain, and experience it without judgment, without condemnation, without skepticism.”
Eboni has no problems with disrupting white spaces
Her answer goes to show exactly how much it means to her to achieve understanding in a world so black and white. She’s not afraid to shine light on the issues, no matter how uncomfortable the conversations are. “Some might not have grasped the milestone of me appearing as the first Black housewife on RHONY but, if they knew my work, they know disrupting has always been a part of every space I enter. My predisposition to disruption is singularly rooted in my unrelenting desire to seek and speak the truth.”
My predisposition to disruption is singularly rooted in my unrelenting desire to seek and speak the truth.
Critics will say that Eboni’s disposition is race-baiting or ‘not what the show is about,’ but in one of the most diverse cities in the world, the cast can no longer excuse a homogenous cast and shying away from these conversations. We’re glad Eboni is there to lead the way.