A Dance of Race and Social Grace on 'The Real Housewives of D.C.'
The Bravo reality TV show is full of awkward moments where Stacie, the sole black character on a show that takes place in a city that is 55 percent African American, smiles uncomfortably.
The scene at Aunt Francis' was unfortunate as I recall that Cat had experienced a rough day all around and probably should have taken a pass that evening, but she said she would be there as she is a woman of her word and is always prompt. Cat is Cat and speaks her mind, the truth and from her heart, which I find very refreshing and authentic. I pray that as the season goes on the focus on racial tension will dissipate as I feel each D.C. Housewife does truly embrace all races, cultures and creeds, and I would think if we had any issues of prejudice or perceived racism we would discuss them openly and honestly.
Of course. While Cat's behavior appears to be motivated more by the culture shock between her British sensibilities and American reality, the fact that Mary was far more interested in exonerating Cat than understanding how racism operates is telling. It is these types of situations that lead to that complicated dance I refer to above. Even though Stacie herself had concluded that Cat's bad behavior was not motivated by racism, the merest perception of a racial motivation threw everyone else into a tizzy. And when the chips were down, her "girlfriend" didn't really see a need to understand Stacie's side or back her up.
Stacie's smile on the show is beginning to represent something a bit more than good will. It's the balm she uses to keep the peace.
She smiles when someone says something clueless and borderline offensive, because the graceful thing to do is to assume they didn't mean it that way.
She smiles when her friends remain silent, leaving her to deal with potentially racist situations, because no one wants to be The Angry Black Woman. (And why is it that TABW is always making an appearance on reality TV, anyway?)
She smiles while describing the effort it takes to interact as one of the only black women in her social circles, knowing that those she speaks to will have the privilege of never experiencing what she does.
She smiles because ultimately, it's best to let the small stuff slide and save her energy for the larger battles.
And if the awkward racial interactions in the first two episodes are any indication, Stacie will be smiling a lot this season.
Latoya Peterson is editor of Racialicious.