Eboni K. Williams has never been afraid to share her truth.
Eboni K. Williams on Developing Self-Confidence & Celebrating Blackness
Williams shook up The Real Housewives of New York City in its thirteenth season when she became the first Black woman to be cast on the show. She says that her new book Bet on Black: The Good News About Being Black in America Today was "an opportunity to frame what Blackness has meant for me growing up as as a Black woman in America.""
This really felt like an opportunity in this moment in America's culture and landscape, to write a book that celebrates Blackness in a way that I have not really seen enough of," she tells Sonia Baghdady of Advocate Now. "Certainly in the racial climates and the cultural climates that we find ourselves in today with various marginalized groups feeling unseen, unheard, unsafe and unprotected."
While many stories around Blackness heavily focus "only around the trauma [and] devastation," Williams says Bet on Black is "very much about liberation and personal choice within the psyche, and the intention of the individual black American consuming this."
Williams shares that growing up reading works by historic Black activists and philosophers such as Fredrick Douglass and Malcolm X helped prepare her to navigate the world as a Black woman. Now, she says she's "at almost 40, in a place of true and complete confidence, and knowingness about who and whose I am."
The television personality says that "as women, as queer identity individuals, as people with maybe particular disabilities, anything that is outside of historic, white, hetero, male normative, creates challenges." These challenges complicated her time on RHONY, as Williams says she felt it was a "hostile" environment at times.
"The fact that I was the first black woman to join this particular group of women I knew would complicate it a bit," she says. "What I did not necessarily anticipate as well was just how hostile potentially the environment would get between my classmates and myself, and the consequences in which we all ultimately shared around that tension."
The tension peaked when Williams hosted a Harlem-themed dinner party, celebrating the art and achievements of Black New York creatives, such as Langston Hughes and Josephine Barker. Despite having "all the trappings of a traditional housewife fantastic dinner party," Williams says that among her co-stars, "there was hostility because it wasn't about them, their culture, and their experiences."
As a public figure, Williams says she "anticipates the backlash," but works to surround herself with people who support her causes, even if they're not the same demographic. She believes that "there is a broader community outside of just your own siloed identity that does believe in the value of diversity and shared experiences."
"I'm very blessed to have a community of people around me that are black, white, Asian, Hispanic, indigenous, and Latino and also queer, straight, non-binary, men, and women," Williams says, adding, "Therefore, I am prepared to stand ten tales down for my principles and what I believe in. Because I believe in our interconnected humanity."
Williams will return to television screens this fall with her own show, Equal Justice With Judge Eboni K. Williams.
For more interviews like this, watch Advocate Now on The Advocate Channel.