Following the senseless killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, protests demanding both a cultural change and police reform have gone beyond the borders of the country, and have occurred worldwide. Bravo and specifically The Real Housewives of Atlanta, have found racism at the center of several of their storylines, and cast member Porsha Williams has the civil rights movement in her genes; her grandfather Hosea Williams was a civil rights leader, philanthropist, and worked directly with Dr. Martin Luther King.
With our nation now at a seemingly cultural tipping point, Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen sat down with Porsha Williams and activist and comedian W. Kamau Bell for a two part episode on Monday June 8th and Tuesday June 9th. Porsha spoke openly about her own experience with racism. As a young child, she attended a march in Atlanta with her grandfather where they had rocks thrown at them and were called racial slurs in the street by the KKK as they sang “We Shall Overcome”. Porsha says it was during that experience that “I was smacked in the face with racism.”
As the events of the past week are unfolding, we are all seeing that systemic racism in our country is not only to be acknowledged by one segment of people in our country. Cohen delved into that topic deeper with W. Kamau Bell, who stated that one of the biggest reasons that non-African American people are being forced to address the issue of racism is clear; it is directly in our faces, as we are in the midst of a pandemic. Each and every one of us are forced to not just see it, but address it as our distractions today, are minimal due to the pandemic. We were forced to confront it. That’s why, Bell says “this means something.”
Porsha has been on Instagram showcasing her own experience with protesting during this time, and she was attending one of the protests that became violent. Tear gas and flash bombs were used and Williams caught it all live on her Instagram feed. Williams message to these peaceful protesters is clear; keep going. “If you are out there to protest; you are out there to fight” she says. “Stay focused on your mission and that is to be heard and to be seen” she went on to say.
On the After Show, Cohen spoke with Williams and Bell in an extremely frank way, asking how non-African American citizens can do to continue their own activism. Bell’s words were absolutely crystal clear; “Show Your Work”. If you say you are going to read a book, start a book club about the book and post it. If you are going to watch a certain film, post your thoughts on that film. As Williams puts it, “the follow up is what really matters”.
Williams, Real Housewives of Atlanta co-star Kandi Burrus and Real Housewives of Potomac star Gizelle Bryant all spoke with Daily Pop host Justin Sylvester for An Open Dialogue on Being Black in America. Williams spoke openly about accountability of non-people of color and how her grandfather would feel about her advocacy today. Burrus spoke about the importance of voting for varying levels of government, while Bryant (who brought her daughters to the local protests) spoke openly about how she is raising two black daughters in America today (Bryant’s father was a Houston, TX civil riots advocate who coincidentally, also worked with Dr. Martin Luther King).
Bravo also released a short video, led by Real Housewives of Atlanta star Marlo Hampton (flacked by her nephews). Hampton spoke about “getting uncomfortable now in order to get comfortable for lives to come”. With that, a cavalcade of Bravo stars are featured showcasing the simple words “Black Lives Matter. My Life Matters. Our Lives Matter”.
To check out all segments from the Watch What Happens Live episode with Porsha Williams and W. Kamau Bell, check out the Watch What Happens Live YouTube channel
To see how Bravo is continuing this important conversation, check out its Instagram