“Now I’m apparently f–king racist,” said Dennis, attempting to defend her actions.
The stars of “Southern Charm” are starting to reexamine the problematic and racist past of Charleston as the show begins to cover the Black Lives Movement for the first time.
On Thursday’s new episode, Kathryn Dennis found herself in a firestorm after she was accused of making racist statements to a Black woman on social media.
While that move cost her a brand ambassador gig, she was also criticized further for not taking a stand against a pro-slavery ancestor whose statue was in the middle of a debate over its removal.
Dennis only appeared once in the episode, as she spoke about her controversial Instagram DMs with Black activist and radio host Tamika Gadsen.
Gadsden condemned a “Trump Boat Parade” being planned in Charleston, South Carolina as having racist overtones. Dennis, who supported the local entrepreneur suggesting the parade, argued online that supporting Trump did not make her racist and then began the series of derogatory messages to Gadsden.
“Stop using Charleston and ur minority claim as a platform to harass people,” she said in one message — while others included Dennis telling Gadsen to “grow a pair,” calling her a “psycho” and asking if she “had a mom” before sending a monkey emoji.
“Honestly, I’ve been super depressed the past few weeks with everything that happened with the Instagram emoji thing,” Dennis said during the episode. “It was genuinely a mistake that had nothing to do with race, politics, nothing.”
“My friend was having a Trump parade party, I’m not f–king political, I’m not into Trump, I’m not into anyone, but they were bullying her,” she continued. “This woman was bashing my friend Katie, so I started responding. I don’t remember what I said, but I do know the monkey emoji ended up coming up.”
“I was like, ‘That’s how serious I take this,’ with the monkey emoji, because it looks funny, it’s awkward and that’s my sense of humor and now I’m apparently f–king racist,” she added. “I received so much backlash and so much hate messages online, so I’ve just kind of shut down.”
The controversy blew up when Gadsen shared the DMs on social media and Dennis was eventually fired as brand ambassador for her friend Madison Simon’s clothing boutique, Gwynn’s. At the time, Dennis apologized on social media.
During the episode, Simon said Dennis had been given opportunities to do the right thing and took “a different road at every turn.” Because of that, she said, “We had to make a statement, we fired her because we have to stand for something and it’s very clearly not that.”
Southern Charm's Kathryn Dennis Denies Being Racist, Appears to Reference Cameran Drama
As all this was going on, a demonstration in Charleston was being organized to debate the removal of a statue for former vice president John C. Calhoun, one of Kathryn’s ancestors who was extremely pro-slavery. Dennis’ middle name is Calhoun.
Leva Bonaparte called up Dennis’ friend Danni Baird to discuss the controversy while inviting Danni to the demonstration.
“There is a Calhoun statue in the middle of Marion Square Park and it it huge, obviously an ancestor of Kathryn’s,” said Leva. “He is known as a person who fought to keep slavery as his last dying wish. That’s why Kathryn has a big name, it’s Calhoun. He was not a very good person.”
“Even a year ago, to say Black lives matter — people didn’t get it,” she added in a confessional. “Now, just to be able to have that conversation and not look so ‘radical’ is a weight lifted off your shoulders.”
Leva believed removing the statue would be a “really powerful first step” for the “healing for our community” — pointing out that the statue itself even used to be a boundary that Black citizens of the city couldn’t cross.
After the demonstration, Danni, Leva, Simon and a few other friends met up for lunch — where they all criticized Dennis for not doing more with her platform and family name to make a real statement.
“Kathryn should definitely be here today,” said Leva. “To just show up and be like, ‘I am related to John C. Calhoun, what he did was not okay, and I’m sorry.’ That would have been such a testament to, like, we’re moving forward.”
Leva also claimed the only response Kathryn had to the statue’s potential removal was, “I don’t care, it’s ugly.”
The women agreed that statement only showed Dennis’ privilege.
A sneak peek showed the conversations around Dennis’ controversy and the statue — which did end up getting removed — would continue next week.
“Southern Charm” airs Thursdays on Bravo.
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