We Need To Discuss Light-Skinned Privilege In The Real Housewives of Potomac

The narrative that any physical attack on Candiace Dillard Bassett is justified crosses a line.

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The premiere episode of The Real Housewives of Potomac reunion gave. Everyone was dressed in Potomac’s version of The Pinkprint to hash out a season “as lit as a three-wick candle.” Andy Cohen came for Gizelle Bryant’s fashion, Twitter came for Candiace Dillard Bassett’s bob, and viewers came for Mia Thornton’s flip-flopping. However, there is one conversation from the night worth revisiting.

During a discussion on Bassett’s issues with Thornton this season, Cohen asked Bassett, “Honestly, how is the way that you respond to people working for you? You almost were physically attacked last year.” The almost hits hard, considering most of America saw Monique Samuels and Bassett’s altercation in season five.

“So that’s my fault that I was physically attacked?” Bassett replies to Cohen, who pushes back by calling her the “common denominator.” The ladies take a moment to rehash the food fight between Thornton and Bassett—a messy melee launched by a “yo momma” dig. Bryant adds “If, by chance, after I saw what I saw, Mia clocked you, I’d been like…” she says with a shrug.

The back-and-forth implies that words are now a justifiable reason for Bravolebrities to get physical. It’s also perplexing to see Cohen nitpick Bassett’s behavior on the heels of Erika Girardi calling Sutton Stracke a “bitchy fucking cunt” during The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reunion episode that aired merely days before. “Everyone up here has a mouth, has said nasty, disrespectful, bottom of the gutter things to one another,” said Bassett during the reunion. Bassett’s not incorrect and the narrative that she deserves to be physically attacked because of anything she’s said as a reality tv cast member crosses a line.

Housewives trade in insults, drink tossing, glass breaking, and traveling the low road—it’s one of the reasons viewers tune in. Though, the framing of this discussion highlights a broader issue of how darker-skinned cast-mates like Bassett and Wendy Osefo are labeled, browbeat, and stage-managed for the same actions everyone in this cast participates in. In the video included, we’ve rounded up a few examples:

Read for Filth

There was uproar this season when Bassett referred to Ashley Darby’s husband as an “overseer,” a label Bassett found fitting because “he drives his slaves” i.e. Ashley. There is more than one creative mouth in the cast, though. In season one, Karen Huger told Darby, who was practicing the pull-out method, to let her husband “ejaculate,” “procreate,” and keep her daughter’s name out of her mouth. This season, Huger even told Bryant she couldn’t keep a man because she had a “hot box” between her legs and was a “broken whore from Hampton University.”

Hood Rats and Trick Trash

Viewers were outraged when Bassett referred to Monique Samuels as a “hood rat” immediately following their season five altercation at a winery. But fans must have forgotten Gizelle Bryant’s season two comments about Samuels. “When you think of language barriers, you think I speak English, you speak French,” said Bryant. “Not I speak English and you speak hood trash, you speak trick trash. That’s what you speak, trick trash,” she added.

Body Shaming

This season, Bassett referred to Darby, who recently gave birth to her second child, as a “filthy milkmaid,” who brought her “wide-bodied ass,” on the cast trip to spread lies. Bassett says, the “wide-bodied” comment was aimed squarely at Darby’s forehead—which she insists is 2-inches bigger than her own and spent most of the season criticizing.

Darby isn’t innocent of launching her own body-shaming attacks, though. In the season three trailer, she told former cast-mate Charrisse Jordan, a woman nearly twice her age, to “get her saggy titties up and get out of her face” and also referred to Ray Huger’s penis, a man in his 70s, as “old and dried up.”

“Ferocious” Fights

In season 5, Ashley Darby labeled Osefo “ferocious” during their dust up at Monique’s lake house—an argument that was relativity tame for Potomac standards. Most of the disagreement stems from the green-eyed bandits launching a debate on whether Osefo, was a “new mother” or just a mother to a newborn—there goes the labeling again. Though, no one labeled Dixon “ferocious” when she completely lost her cool when speaking with Darby during a lunch Bryant organized or when she ambushed Darby at her business, told her to stay “the fuck out of her business,” and put her fingers in Darby’s face.

Mia Thornton similarly encroached on Osefo’s personal space this season, then asked Osefo “what she was gonna do about it?” Funny, I thought this type of taunting got Bassett “dragged” last year. Would this have given Osefo license to drag Thornton? I can only assume that, too, is a privilege Osefo wouldn’t have.

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