The Real Housewives of Potomac star Candiace Dillard knows why —or thinks she knows why — you prefer co-star Ashley Darby. In one word: colorism.
It all started when @alltruetea posted a video to their Instagram recapping some of the biggest fights and most heated moments from RHOP.
Under the video, one fan commented,
“This reel shows how reckless Ashley [Darby]’s mouth has been and still is. Yet Candiace was the villain and ganged up on by so many fans. It’s crazy how Ashley was in my opinion worse but people want to ignore that. I wonder why????🤔 ”
In response, Candiace wrote,
“Because she’s light-skinned. There. It was said. I said it. Now, let’s see how fast it gets around.”
“Having light skin imbues one w/ a certain level of privilege that darker hued counterparts are not allotted. Standards are different. Implicit biases spewed by the outside world run different. Sometimes it works in their favor, sometimes not. But the privilege is always there.”
“Ashley’s spent three seasons being dragged by the fans and the only reason why Ashley has gone to better favor of the fans and because we got to see a different side of her as a mother. I think people have short memories, Candiace’s memory is a little short.”
Gizelle agreed and added,
“Ashely does not say half the things Candiace says that are bad.”
Robyn certainly has a point — Ashley was one of the messiest cast members in the first few seasons and definitely received a backlash from fans. But since becoming a mom, Ashley has significantly matured.
That said, we cannot — and should not — disregard the part that colorism plays both in society. Light-skinned women do have certain privileges unavailable to dark-skinned women, whether we’re conscious of it or not.
Whether Ashley’s light-skinned privilege has impacted her likability compared to Candiace is simply unknowable. We cannot ignore Candiace’s past words and actions, particularly the things she’s said on Twitter about her castmates, which can only be described as unnecessarily cruel and below-the-belt.
When it comes to Candiace’s lack of likability, what weight do we give to colorism and what weight do we give to her own words and actions? Are her words and actions perceived as worse than they actually are because of her skin color? It’s something we can’t rule out.
This was not the first time that the topic of colorism has come up on the show. The women discussed colorism within the cast during the RHOP season 5 reunion.
More specifically, Wendy Osefo called out Ashley for her word choices, particularly her history of calling the darker-skinned cast members (like Wendy) things like, “aggressive.”
During the reunion, Wendy explained,
“I think there is a history of certain words that are inflammatory that are often targeted and used for women. and I think it’s very interesting that Ashley continuously uses buzz words. She says ‘aggressive’, ‘ferocious’.”
The conversation was divisive among the cast with Ashley and former cast member Monique Samuels vehemently disagreeing.
Robyn, however, agreed with Wendy. She said at the time,
“We have to be able the weight that our words carry and how it’s perceived. I will never refer to brown-skinned women or a dark-skinned woman as aggressive because of her skin tone.”
The topic has also been divisive among fans, some of whom readily agreed with Wendy and Candiace, and others who defended Ashley.
Discussions of microaggressions have increased in the last few years among the Real Housewives cast members. On the Real Housewives of New York this season, the first Black cast member Eboni K. Williams sat down with her co-stars to discuss why it’s problematic to call a Black woman “angry.”
These conversations have had a huge impact on the fans as well. Following that episode of RHONY, words and phrases like “microaggressions” and “what are microaggressions” trended on Google search.
Discussions of colorism and microaggressions are both extremely important as people continue to learn about institutional racism and unconscious bias. Hopefully, this will just be the beginning of unlearning for all of our housewives as the overall franchise introduces more women of color to the various casts.
RHOP airs on Bravo on Sundays at 8 PM.
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Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel and when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her obsessing over her tuxedo cat Tom or hoarding drugstore lipsticks.