Southern Charm confronted the not-so-charming historical past of Charleston, South Carolina, and its residents this week in an exceptionally actual episode of actuality TV. For the primary time, the long-running Bravo hit addressed the historical past of the South, particularly with slavery.
Shot this summer time in the course of the surge of the Black Lives Matter motion and name for racial justice, cameras adopted Leva Bonaparte, Danni Baird and their mates Madison Simon, Venita Aspen and Megan Pinckney to an emotional metropolis assembly calling for the elimination of a statue of John C. Calhoun that sat within the middle of city. Calhoun was a former Vice President of the United States and a proud enslaver who, as Leva put it, “fought to keep slavery as his last dying wish.” He’s additionally an ancestor of the ladies’s Southern Charm co-star Kathryn Dennis, who opted to not contain herself with the dialogue surrounding the statue.
“It’s hard to watch,” Leva tells ET over video chat of the episode. “Being at that statue that day, not knowing if it was going to come down and having African Americans standing there and saying my name is also Calhoun and this family owned my family for X-many generations was hard to hear.”
“I think if more people could hear that, it was just, like, chill bumps,” she says. “We were all crying because we can’t not. It just shows that it’s still alive in a way, and we’re steps away from the church where there was the massacre of the Emanuel Nine.” (In June 2015, white supremacist Dylan Roof killed 9 Black parishioners throughout a Bible research on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.)
Leva (who immigrated to American and is of Persian descent) is married to a Black man, Lamar. Together, they’ve a 2-year-old son, Lamar, Jr. She says getting extra concerned within the push for racial justice has helped her to higher perceive the generational trauma of her husband. She additionally felt compelled to be a voice for change on this nation so as to create a greater future for the Black son she and Lamar are elevating.
“I was speaking to one of the crew [members], he was like, ‘Dude, when we look back on this 30 years from now, this is crazy,'” Leva remembers. “To be here and to have it documented, it was cool. Like the angels in the sky were like, OK, Charleston. You’re doing better.”
The episode serves as a little bit of a mirror to what many individuals, particularly white individuals, skilled this summer time: Facing the tough truths of historical past that aren’t taught at school. Danni admits she was ignorant to a lot of what was mentioned, as Venita and Megan, who’re Black, walked the group by the ache they’ve skilled their complete lives, surrounded by monuments and celebrations of the Confederacy. Venita even admits she doesn’t like to make use of her final identify, because it’s the surname of a household who as soon as enslaved her ancestors.
“I took away a lot that day,” Danni shares with ET, in a separate video chat. “It was really enlightening. I had chill bumps at the statue. It was deep, and I never would’ve thought that would’ve happened that day. Like, I just was there to support, and in the back of my mind, I was scared of offending Kathryn. I wasn’t thinking about the plight of the statue and what it symbolized, but when I left? I was wowed.”
“I hope people understand, even in this episode, you’ll see where Danni was like, what statue? What do you mean by ‘privilege?’ What does that even mean?” Leva factors out. “And Danni’s of the Earth, literally one of the best humans I know, so that should show you that just because she didn’t know those things doesn’t mean she’s a bad person. You only know what’s in the box you’re in, so you really have to get someone to push you out of that box and be like, did you know this? And so Danni texted me and was like, it’s like a train wreck. Now I can’t look away. Now I need more information. Now I need to know more, now I need to know how to fix this. Because it pulled the curtains back for her.”
At the time the group filmed the second in June, social media feedback flooded fan feeds accusing the present of co-opting a cultural second for actuality TV achieve. The solid has needed to sit tight, ready for the episode to air and for individuals to see their true intentions.
“I think people thought it was more about publicity and, you know, the whole topic and meaning behind it was being sabotaged for a TV show, and we knew at the end of the day, that wasn’t what was going to be taken away from it,” Danni says. “There was a lot of emotion and I hope that people see that.”
Numerous emotion, however one individual lacking from the historic occasion: Kathryn.
“I mean, honestly, I was frustrated because I had never heard Kat talk about any of this stuff,” Danni notes. “There was such an opportunity for her to kind of take this and turn it around in her favor, and kind of just apologize for the sins of her past — even though it wasn’t her, it was her family. It was something that I think would’ve been really special to acknowledge, especially with a lot of local Charlestonians.”
Leva didn’t explicitly attain out to Kathryn and invite her to the occasion, like she did with Danni, as a result of on the time she thought it was a transfer Kathryn ought to make on her personal.
“Originally, I was like, it’s her responsibility to know. How did she not know this? She knows the statue’s coming down, she should find out when, blah blah,” Leva says. “As the season goes on, I start to soften, because originally I was god smacked by it and then I was like, I kinda wish she had been there. But I also wanted to respect my friends Venita and Megan, and I wasn’t sure if they were ready to be at the table with her, and if she had shown up of her own volition, then it would have been like, ‘Oh, wow. She wasn’t invited and she came.’ Then, it’s a different level of respect at the table.”
“I think at that point, for Venita and Megan, I just wasn’t sure me inviting her to the table would have helped,” she provides, “and it was more their moment. … It happened the way it should have, because if I had invited her, it would have been a little disingenuine in terms of how my other friends were feeling who weren’t ready yet to have a conversation with her.”
The desk Leva mentions is each figurative and literal, because the group gathered for lunch after the assembly at Leva’s eatery, Republic Garden & Lounge. The girls’s dialog wound up targeted on Kathryn, because the statue elimination dialogue got here simply after a social media scandal for her.
In May, Kathryn used a monkey emoji in a DM dialog on Instagram with a Black radio host and activist in Charleston, Tamika Gadsden, a couple of Donald Trump rally Kathryn’s pal, Katie Shields, was organizing on the town. In that very same trade, Kathryn informed Tamika to cease utilizing her “minority claim” to “harass people” and added, “Ur [sic] legit what’s wrong with our city.” Kathryn issued an apology quickly after, denouncing allegations of racism and defending her use of a monkey — a determine traditionally used to animalize Black individuals — as unintentionally offensive.
In the approaching weeks, Southern Charm viewers will see solid members focus on the incident and its aftermath with Kathryn.
“I don’t believe Katherine is outwardly racist,” Leva says. “I’ve never seen her say anything racist, no. Do I think she can be super embedded in white privilege? Yeah. Do I think that she’s tone deaf to things that don’t affect her? Yeah. I don’t know what the proper terminology is, but she fits on the spectrum, because sometimes just not caring is kinda racism at this point. I don’t think she’s out here trying to hurt anybody that’s different from her, or has any sort of vendetta against anybody, but I do think that if it doesn’t affect her, she’s kinda like, hmm.”
Kathryn turned to Leva to assist her navigate the scandal a bit, which was information to Danni, who has been by Kathryn’s aspect by most of her ups and downs throughout her Southern Charm tenure. It was a intestine punch to the artist, who revealed within the episode that she was even the one that needed to break the information of Kathryn’s mom’s loss of life to Kathryn final yr. Madison then identified to Danni that Kathryn solely reaches out to Danni when it’s handy, a harsh reality Danni knew to be true. Even nonetheless, she says she will’t stop her pal.
“I don’t know why, but I will at least — at the very least — be her, like, lowest battery bar,” Danni gives. “It comes second nature to me and I don’t know how else to explain it but that.”
Still, Danni’s emotions have been damage by Kathryn’s radio silence throughout a time of want.
“I was like, OK, you didn’t defend me when I was in arguments with Madison [LeCroy] last year, but you’ve known Katie as, like, a side-friend and you’re gonna get up on the internet and defend her because [of a] Trump rally?” she asks. “Like, those are the things I’m talking about. I’m like, what frame of mind were you in? You know, she doesn’t like confrontation. So, to me it was one of those things — dude, [be] a reciprocal friend.”
Next week, followers will see Danni try to confront Kathryn over her damage emotions, however the meet-up doesn’t go down as deliberate.
“I was already nervous about how I was gonna broach certain concerns I had with her without her shutting down like she does sometimes,” Danni teases of what followers will see. “I really wanted her to hear me, and as soon as she got there, I could tell like she just wasn’t gonna hear it and honestly, like, kinda tried to spin things on me. And I was like, dude, I’ve been hearing people talk st for days. Like, come on. You’re not gonna come in my house like this. Like, bye. I don’t know. I was pissed. I will say I was pissed that day.”
Danni wasn’t even planning to deal with the racism accusations with Kathryn that day, however it does come up later.
“What she did was so stupid and fked up,” Danni continues. “I mean, that’s all I would have to tell her. Like, what the fk were you thinking? What were you thinking? Like, you know better than this. That’s what I would say, in terms of that. I wasn’t mad about that. I mean, I was, but everybody else was going to be able to do that. I didn’t want to make it seem like we were bullying her, you know?”
The two have since labored by their points, and Danni guarantees that Kathryn has “hugely” discovered from her errors. Now, it’s as much as her to point out the world as a lot.
“In terms of Kathryn, I’ve done everything I can,” Leva gives. “At the end of the day, I wish her well and that she took something from it and she knows that I’m not here to get her. I think she has tremendous potential.”
“She’s not racist,” Danni declares. “I know that for a fact. I just don’t know what she was thinking. I think she made a really stupid decision and she was a brat. But she’ll tell you that. I mean, she will. She knows that.”
In an interview printed Thursday by Bravo’s The Daily Dish, Kathryn mentioned, “I think I made a mistake and it’s one that anybody could make. And I take responsibility and I’m glad that honestly it happened in the public because I think it happened for a reason and I think that now I have a platform to use it to change instead of going into hiding and letting myself be defeated.”
In the subsequent few episodes, viewers will see these conversations proceed. Leva hints that the fellows within the group, although, try to shut down among the more durable subjects she broaches.
“I think there’s times when they thought I was trying to be a bully and I was like, I’m not trying to be a bully. If you want to see me be a bully, that’s a different story,” she teases. “It’s almost like my grievances are more with the boys than the girls because I wish that they had pushed [Kathryn] more and coddled her less. Because that’s not chivalry. She’s not a kitten stuck up in a tree. Tell her that’s not OK, you know? Instead of calling me a bully.”
“I don’t think cancel culture serves anybody, but I think that addressing it — I was hard on Kathryn, but she needed that,” she admits. “She needed that for her to sort of get her to wake up to it, because with affluence or privilege comes responsibility. That’s the cross you have to bear, and it can be tremendous. Like, imagine what you can do with that. I wasn’t trying to life coach her, but I was like, dude, be the rising star. Like, come on.”
Leva additionally asks the followers to provide her and her co-stars grace, as they labored by some very delicate points throughout a delicate time.
“I’m hoping what [the audience doesn’t] take away is that we’re mad at people for their ancestors, which is not the case,” she says. “I’m hoping that they take away from this, and as this season continues, that people can see that it’s OK to have these awkward conversations. It’s important that when you do something that is the result of a lack of education that it doesn’t mean you suck, or you should just throw yourself off a bridge. It doesn’t mean you should stick your head in the sand, it just means let’s pick up a book, let’s have some conversations, let’s do some reading, let’s understand what it is that I don’t understand that made me make that stty comment.”
“I’m hoping as we go through the season that Kathryn’s curtains get pulled back — and her journey is different, because of her name, because of her history,” Leva notes. “There is more responsibility, and Danni has her own journey, and I’m on the spectrum, too. I learned so much, too. So I hope people can understand: Get your friend groups together, have awkward conversations, don’t be so scared of offending. If we can’t figure it out together, we’re never gonna figure it out.”
“At the end of the day, I want it to be better for our kids,” she says. “I want it to be better for Kathryn’s kids.”
Southern Charmairs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.
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