Toward the end of the four-part The Real Housewives of Atlanta reunion, host Andy Cohen tried to help Phaedra Parks save herself from herself.
Phaedra—who had been outed by cast member Porsha Williams as the source of a rumor that another cast member, Kandi Burruss, had once contemplated drugging Williams and taking her home, along with Burruss’ husband, Todd, for a felonious act of fornication—sat stoically as everyone else around her cried in disgust at her actions. Parks offered nothing more than another half-assed apology that pleased no one and permanently soiled her standing with Cohen, her castmates and the public watching at home.
Parks refused to truly own how trifling, how vile and how pathetic she behaved. She wouldn’t say that she might have been angry with her former friend Burruss and her husband for embarrassing her by way of continuing a friendship with her ex, the scamming Apollo Nida, and that maybe, just maybe, she wanted to get back at them, and her attempts at doing so got way out of hand.
Like, one imagines that Parks watched, with understandable fury, Burruss’ mom, Joyce, dressed like Inspector Gadget, filming a scene about consulting an attorney regarding Parks’ divorce proceedings. It wouldn’t have excused Joyce’s actions, but at the very least, Parks could have sized up her gossipmongering as hurt people hurt people. Nope. She just sat there, looking stupid, when “everybody knows” Ms. Parks is anything but.
Since then, Parks has reportedly been fired from the show after violating the “morality clause.” Yet it is also now being reported that the rumor Parks spoke of was not her invention. Even so, regardless of whether or not production did lend a hand in starting a false rumor centered on sexual assault, Parks is ultimately responsible for going with it.
However, when you read Parks’ recent interview with People magazine, you are reminded of how image conscious the attorney-turned-reality star is. Likewise, you are reaffirmed in your feelings that Phaedra Parks is so full of shit.
On the ominous question of Parks’ reality-TV legacy, she answered:
“I really want to show that you can be well-educated, you can be a professional and you can solve conflicts without being ratchet. You can be a lady, you can have dignity in your dealings—whether it be personal or professional. I think sometimes as black women, we’re stereotyped in categories of being overly sexualized, of being the aggressive black woman and of being this ratchet sort of character that doesn’t know how to behave herself.”
Parks went on to add:
“I want people to know that there is definitely a real kind of black woman who conducts herself in a certain way. She’s not out here screaming and cursing and acting crazy. She does things differently, and people love her for it.”
Therein lies what’s always been so frustrating about Parks: She is more concerned about appearances than the truth. For her, representation matters more than merely being yourself. It’s exactly why so many have long referred to her as “Fakedra.”
Parks buys into the notion of what a “respectable” black person, and specifically what a “dignified” black woman, looks like. Although battling stereotypes is important, it should not come at the expense of one’s truth. So while it’s great that Parks did bring more serious matters to the show throughout her run, she forgets one important thing: We can see her.
Yes, she talked about police brutality, she advocated on behalf of young girls and we did see her engaged politically, but we also saw everything else. This would include her full ass being out on several occasions. Parks loves showing off that “donkey booty,” but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. That said, there is something off with a woman who admonishes other women she finds “overly sexualized” when she herself presents her freaky-deaky whenever she sees fit.
Phaedra Parks wants complete ownership of and credit for behavior she finds respectable, but makes no room for the rest of what’s there. Ironically, the rest of what’s there makes her human. It’s just so silly to pretend you don’t know how many months you are in your pregnancy, but that’s Parks for you. It’s also just as ridiculous to pretend that not cursing on TV or not doing anything else one might deem “ratchet” magically makes you a better person.
There are other black women Parks may find to be poor representations and “stereotypes,” but at least those women are who they say they are. Parks cannot say the same. No, Parks doesn’t swear on TV, but she lies about former friends being rapists. OK, Parks may not convey overt aggressiveness while on camera, but behind the scenes, she’s spreading lies about other black women that could have permanently damaged both their personal and their professional lives.
Parks’ ongoing legacy will be that she was more into conveying the appearance of being a good person than being an honest one. That obsession with the facade is what fucked her up in the end. The public, by and large, loathes her, and she deserves every bit of their disdain. As someone who had long been a fan of hers, I’m as disappointed as I am disgusted.
Black women don’t need folks like Phaedra Parks representing them. Frankly, they’d do better with a piñata. And really, Parks’ thinking along those lines was largely motivated by self-interest. Parks clearly had greater ambition for herself and the fame she’s earned as a Bravo star. Anyone who refers to a black congresswoman as her mentor on national TV has to be thinking about what can come next. Unfortunately for her, she’s made whatever happens after The Real Housewives of Atlanta all the more difficult to attain.
Who wants a lawyer who lies like this? Who wants to vote for someone so callous? What other show could this type of villainy be put on?
I don’t know, and in the immediate, I don’t care. Funny enough, TMZ recently put out video of Parks going off to Crime Mob’s “Knuck if You Buck.” That version of Phaedra Parks—the educated, accomplished mother of two adorable kids who can be just as litty as anyone else—is the one many of us clung to. But that’s not who Parks really is. The conclusion of the reunion showed us that. That person will not be missed, so honestly, good riddance to her and every other filtered version of herself.
Now check that.