Dear Bravo, You Have a Racism Problem
The murder of George Floyd has sparked a worldwide phenomenon, which could be viewed as the long-awaited sign that real change, echoing why Black lives should always matter is finally here, or it could just be another historical event to add to the previous movements that didn’t yield lifesaving measures.
The latter is highly doubtful.
Either way, as we work tirelessly to keep hope alive, we are also witnessing the crumbling foundation of white entities, that are desperately and shamelessly scrambling to make mandatory adjustments to the previous rulebooks, that were damningly seeped in willful exclusion and the high tolerance for blatant bigotry.
The hourly headlines from overworked editors, aggressively clogging news feeds with details that confirm the abrupt departures of former cast mates of reality TV and other facets of white entertainment is solid proof of the end of days.
White supremacy isn’t just regulated to the venues of KKK-themes rallies that Trump can hardly wait to get back to, or the blood-filled streets where the violence of law enforcement disproportionately devastates the Black community.
The lethality of whiteness surrounds us everywhere we go.
It’s the inescapable vacuum of societal betrayals that forces time spent in combative spaces where the supremacy of oppressors ultimately decides your fate, when it comes to career trajectories and the wages that are always determined by your unworthiness.
I have suffered the massacre of reporting to a racist boss, an uncouth white male, who inappropriately hurled curses and insults in response to fruitless meetings with obstinate clients, and when the trading desk didn’t yield to his demands. He was ornery because his whiteness made it possible for him to get away with it.
White men and white women can be unruly and hostile in fancy office settings because of the currency of viability and how they’re humanized with allowances for the explosiveness that’s rarely deemed a violation.
Of course the handful of Black men executives in our midst wouldn’t dream of erupting like a volcano in the full view of judgments by less restrained white counterparts.
As far as the entertainment industry goes, we were already up to speed about the messiness, lawlessness and utter dysfunction that has recently been called out with swift initiations of movements like MeToo, Time’s Up and newly-minted hashtags like #OscarsSoWhite that serve as symbols of long-overdue activism.
Imagine that it took the activation of a hashtag to finally galvanize the support to rewrite decades of atrocities committed by white Hollywood.
White studio execs, and producers, who have been endearingly faithful to the blueprint of whiteness, at the expense of the wasteland of Black creatives, who never stood a chance for fair representation have been called to order.
Fast forward to four years later, and we are once again witnessing the monumental season of discarding the disgraceful faces attached to the famous and almost famous, who’ve all participated in nefarious activities that don’t gel with the “crispy- clean” whiteness of organizations that can’t afford to get dirtier.
Actress Lea Michele of Glee has been trending ever since her alleged toxic behavior on set was made public by a former Black cast mate. As more folks joined the conversation and shared their testimonies, Michele’s brand sponsorships and marketability began to rapidly disappear.
The immediate gratification for amused observers is seductive, as one by one, identified culprits attached to ambitious projects with renewed seasons are quickly released from ongoing and further commitments.
The latest slew of perpetrators happen to be a couple of D-listers from Vanderpump Rules, the reality TV series offshoot of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, that features a bevy of white Millennials employed at the upscale West Hollywood eatery, Pump, owned by British entrepreneur Lisa Vanderpump, a former Beverly Hills Housewife.
Apparently frenemies Stassi Schroeder and Kristen Doute, who are both original cast members of the show that began back in 2013, are currently without a job, due to the blinding evidence of bigotry that goes as far back as when they were hired by Bravo.
The details of the allegations against the two women are easy to find with a little research. But the bottomline is that Stassi’s history of problematic social media interactions, including her budding podcast where she freely demonizes the audacity of Black people to demand inclusion in Hollywood based skin color, should’ve been flagged by the HR department of Bravo.
If not for the outspokenness of a former cast mate, Faith Stowers, a Black woman, who shared the harrowing ordeal that involved the cops and being wrongly accused by Stassi Schroeder, who unapologetically weaponized her whiteness, the secret would’ve remained sealed.
The reason why the blatant racism went unnoticed and unchallenged is mainly because of the normalized culture of offensiveness that has been permitted to thrive at a successful network owned by NBCUniversal.
Yes, both women deserve to be thrown out effectively immediately for their appalling streak of hateful behavior, including the additional cast members that have been added to the growing pile of misfits, but Bravo can’t be serious about getting rid of the bad apples on its roster because that would require literally cleaning house.
Here’s the thing, Bravo absolutely harbors a racism issue that won’t be contained for much longer.
Back in the day when I was a loyal viewer of all-things Bravo, I had the unfortunate pleasure of witnessing the shit fest, courtesy of white Housewives located in all-white enclaves, who had the privilege of sponsored excursions to certain parts of the world that inspired racist observations that went unchecked.
From the Housewives of New York City to Orange County with detours in Dallas and the plantations of Southern Charm in Charleston, SC, there’s no shortage of footage that implicates the nonchalance and traitorous embrace of greedy employers, who assumed the day would never come when retaining the services of openly racist employees would be considered criminal.
Canceling the presence of a handful of unrecognizable names on a large scale won’t do much damage or cost a pretty penny.
But what happens when a thorough investigation of long-held practices reveals the ugly truth about your prized possessions clustered in wealthy zip codes?
Can Bravo afford the high price of doing the right thing by cutting ties with most of the Housewives based on the documented racism, that’s never acceptable for the sake of ratings and the heightened tension that marvelously reaffirms the popularity of bad characters, who are paid to maintain those attributes?
Andy Cohen has to reconcile with his decade-long track record of being the protector of his deplorable cast mates, who have displayed bigoted stances that affect Black, Brown and LGBTQIA communities, which is ironic considering his personal membership.
Black lives matter isn’t a sport or a season that will eventually pass without the tangible reforms and drastic measures to ensure that the national tragedy of George Floyd’s horrific murder, and the resounding cries for justice in the streets won’t be in vain.
We were already caught up on the seedy operations of the white media and white-owned industries that haven’t done a very good job of stealthily robbing Black talents of their accrued compensation and the prime opportunities for progression that white counterparts are seamlessly awarded.
These systemic injustices won’t fade away overnight, and making it right will take a lot more than the recorded punishments that don’t even scratch the surface of the embedded vileness, that has been festering and mutating under the enablement of the trusted white gaze.
Bravo and other white media outlets have their work cut out for them if they are serious about doing the work.
Doing stuff, here and there is bullshit!
Take responsibility for fostering environments that worked against the best interests of Black people in all applicable avenues. And then create the hub of productivity that presents the improved landscape that will require the immense expense of starting over.
If you skip those steps — you best believe the problem will persist.