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'Real Housewives of New York' star Eboni K. Williams reveals even more about her fight with Luann de Lesseps and says she refuses 'to apologize for white folks uncomfortability'

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Insider
Insider
 2021-06-08

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Eboni K. Williams
  • Eboni K. Williams is the first Black castmember of 'The Real Housewives of New York.'
  • Her introduction has been rocky thanks to an argument with Luann de Lesseps.
  • Williams told Insider she's 'having a more emotional experience than I ever did at Fox news.'
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories .

Updated: Jun 8 2021, 9:34 AM

Like many Housewives before her, Eboni K. Williams has been placed in the midst of an emotionally-charged social circle.

But the first Black cast member of "The Real Housewives of New York," who's a former Fox News host, admitted that being the only woman of color in season 13 has presented added difficulties, including dealing with microaggressions from her fellow castmembers.

During a recent trip to The Hamptons, an upscale area of Long Island, New York, fellow castmember Luann de Lesseps labeled the former Fox News host "angry" during a conversation about - of all things - if it's too crass to talk about sex as a woman.

Initially, de Lesseps credited her religious upbringing for the reason that she and Ramona Singer judged the language, but throughout the conversation, de Lesseps' argument leapfrogged from religion, to class, to education.

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The cast of "The Real Housewives of New York."
When Williams revealed that she had the highest level of formal education in the room as an attorney, de Lesseps became visibly agitated. She accused Williams of saying she was the "smartest person in the room," and told her, "I think you should go."

Insider spoke with Williams after the incident aired on Bravo last week. The TV personality not only shared what she was thinking while filming, but explained why she's taking a social-media hiatus while these episodes air.

She also shared how being on "Real Housewives" is harder, in some ways, than her time at Fox News where she received death threats.

Williams said de Lesseps asking her to apologize was an 'inappropriate' request

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Luann de Lesseps, Eboni K. Williams and Ramona Singer

Williams told Insider that although de Lesseps apologized for her part in the argument, which was shown in a teaser for Tuesday's episode airing at 9 p.m. ET/PT, she still misstepped.

When the two ladies eventually sat down to discuss the incident, Williams revealed she had little time to decompress what had happened. But she knew immediately that it didn't feel right that de Lesseps asked Williams to apologize too.

"Black people, and Black women in particular, are constantly asked to apologize for white folks uncomfortability," she said.

"What you saw on my face was a negotiation I was having within myself around the most productive way to respond to that request that would let her know how inappropriate the request was and also why it was an inappropriate expectation."

"I'm not going to apologize for having a human experience," she added.

During the argument, de Lesseps also accused Williams of "jumping in my face," despite cameras capturing the women sitting during the entire exchange. Even castmember Sonja Morgan confirmed that Williams didn't get in de Lesseps face throughout the heated exchange.

Williams told Insider that de Lesseps, whom she knew before filming, was "recreating of history to serve a narrative that says Black women are angry and aggressive."

Insider reached out to a rep for de Lesseps, but didn't immediately hear back.

Williams admits that watching herself on 'RHONY' is 'more emotional' than getting death threats during her time at Fox News

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The cast of "The Real Housewives of New York."

Despite castmembers being expected to live tweet and engage with fans while episodes air, Williams instead announced last Tuesday in an Instagram video that she was taking a break from social media to care for herself.

"I'm not going to avail myself to a lot of the toxicity that's on social media in this moment," she told Insider recently. "I'm having to frankly be re-traumatized in some way because I'm having to revisit what happened in these scenes over and over again each week when they air."

"I've never been one to sit around and rewatch myself on TV or radio. With this show and platform, that is unavoidable," Williams added. "It feels much more taxing."

Williams is used to being on TV as the current host of Revolt TV's "State of the Culture." She's also used to receiving consistent backlash as she was a host of Fox News' "The Specialists," which ended in 2018 after four months. But at the news network, the 37-year-old newswoman was able to separate vitriol towards policies and politics rather than hatred of her personality, Williams admitted.

"I find myself having a more emotional experience than I ever did at Fox News, which is saying a lot, because I was literally getting death threats," she said. "I feel more vulnerable."

Thankfully, Williams said Ricochet, the production company behind "The Real Housewives of New York," has been supportive of her hiatus and they've held "listening sessions," where she can describe her experiences.

De Lesseps has a history of racist actions after appearing in blackface on a 2018 episode

After last Tuesday's episode, many fans of "RHONY" accused de Lesseps of playing into the oft-spoken trope of calling Black women "angry."

Even Sara Haines, a cohost on "The View," said during a segment discussing the now-viral incident that "I've known about this stereotype, this bias for years."

"Those types of moments perpetuate these biases that remain and continue to hold people in boxes that they've never deserved," she added on Friday's episode.

During the argument, Williams even called out the use of the stereotype, responding to de Lesseps, "So now I'm the angry Black woman, Luann?"

"No … not going there," de Lesseps replied. "You're an angry woman right now. I never referred to your color nor would I."

Still, during the reality show's season 10 premiere, the 56-year-old reality star was embroiled in controversy when fans and castmates said she appeared in blackface during a Halloween party where she came as famed singer Diana Ross.

"Luann's costume is so disrespectful," former castmember Carole Radziwill, who left the series after that season, said during the episode. "I think she's tone-deaf when it comes to cultural stereotypes."

During an episode of "Watch What Happens Live!" later that year, de Lesseps apologized for the costume.

"I'm horrified! I never meant to hurt anybody's feelings," she said in 2018. "I love Diana Ross and I totally respect Diana Ross. It was really kind of a tribute to her and it was Halloween."

"I'm very sorry to everyone out there if I offended anyone," de Lesseps added.

The reality star also denied changing the color of her skin, adding that instead she was wearing "bronzer."

"So I didn't add anything to or would ever, ever dream of doing a blackface. Ever," she added.

Read the original article on Insider

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