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After Her Big Freshman Season, Real Housewives Of New York's Eboni K. Williams Reflects On The ‘Cost’ Of Those Race Conversations

screenshot eboni k williams real housewives of new york
(Image credit: Bravo)

Eboni K. Williams entered the Real Housewives of New York fray this year as the first Black cast member in the show's history. But her big freshman season was met with a polarizing reaction from her co-stars and even some fans. For the most part, Williams was criticized for frequently discussing race on a supposedly fun and lighthearted reality show. With Season 13 now in the books, Williams is reflecting on the potential “cost” of having those conversations about race.

Amongst her castmates, Eboni K. Williams was met with pushback for being too “preachy” on the show when discussing her views and experiences as a Black woman in America. It even led to some heated arguments with the likes of longtime alums Luann de Lesseps and Ramona Singer, concerning what is or isn’t racist or stereotyping. Recently, on The Tamron Hall Show, Williams addressed whether she actually thinks her position on the Real Housewives of New York might be in jeopardy because of her vocal opinions on racial matters. She said:

I consider you know, the cost. I call it the cost of disruption, I even have a name for it. Does it mean, you know, that my tenure on this show is limited? It might. I think that any housewife has to consider the fan reaction, I'll say it that way, you know, and is there a cost to be paid for the depth in which I go in these conversations? Absolutely. And it's just the cost that I'm willing to pay. I feel like this - if a woman in my position is privileged enough to be invited on to that kind of platform in front of millions of viewers all across the world, and I do less than is my responsibility, I shouldn't be there. That's really how I feel.

There has, in fact, been a lot of speculation about the future lineup of The Real Housewives of New York following this season’s drama. Fans are split between thinking either Eboni K. Williams needs to go (for shifting the show's tone in a more serious direction) or that Ramona Singer should be fired (conversely, for her awkward handling over the conversations question). However, some reports are hinting that neither will be let go and that Leah McSweeney and Sonja Morgan are the real ones in trouble.

Despite the hoopla over Eboni K. Williams, Real Housewives of New York isn't the only show in the franchise that's starting to grapple with conversations about racial inequity. Last year on the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’s freshman premiere, controversy erupted after Jen Shah accused co-star Mary Cosby of avoiding 7-Elevens if Black people were present.

Likewise, early in The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ currently airing season, the show's first Chinese-American castmate, Crystal Kung Minkoff, argued with co-star Sutton Stracke over the idea of “not seeing color.” The first Black castmate on the show, Garcelle Beauvais, also had to address feeling stereotyped by Kyle Richards over a charity donation confusion.

In her own freshman season, Eboni K. Williams has certainly been just as vocal about her perspective. The Real Housewives of New York star even broke down at one point for being labeled the “angry, Black woman” by Luann de Lesseps. She took a social media hiatus at the height of dramatic episodes hearing, citing that she needed to take care of her mental health.

But Eboni K. Williams has at least one castmate in her corner, who in fact thinks the ongoing speculation is an attempt to censor Williams. Time will tell whether these race conversations ultimately affect the franchise newbie's position on The Real Housewives of New York. Regardless, though, she might just be leaving on her own accord, if that spot on The View somehow becomes permanent.

Lauren Vanderveen

I am a vegan feminist. I'm fascinated by all things space/stars. I love film history, reality television, and my cat Bubbe.