Former Miss USA, Kenya Moore, is the resident pot-stirrer on Bravo’s the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Drama orbits Kenya and she relishes in the attention. Audiences have seen Kenya throw rocks and hide her hands in multiple conflicts since she joined the Housewives cast in 2012. She’s battled with Porsha Williams, Nene Leakes, Phaedra Parks, and even Kim Fields, but in last night’s episode, Kenya had a valid point about the larger issue of victim blaming and abusive Black men.
On December 20’s episode, the cast was luxuriating in Miami on their customary girls trip. Supermodel Cynthia Bailey invited her friend, Tammy McCall Browning, to partake in the festivities, which included a raunchy version of ‘Never Have I Ever.’ Browning invited her nephew, Glen Rice Jr., to the home that the cast members were vacationing in. He, in turn, invited a male friend to join him. Inviting a plus one when you’re a plus one to a plus one never ends well and it didn’t on this night.
Glen was aggressive toward several female cast members, including Kandi Burruss, Kenya, Phaedra, and Kim. Kandi, who is pregnant, was unwilling to engage with him, but that didn’t stop his tirade. After noticing his behavior, Kenya said in a confessional, “The more I hang around this guy, the more I realize his behavior is erratic. He made me uncomfortable.” In trademark fashion, Kenya approached Tammy and told her that Glen was “aggressive” and “we’d really just like for him to leave.”
After Glen learned that he was being booted from the festivities, he went on a rampage. He called Kenya a “little bitch” and knocked his aunt, Tammy, unconscious as she attempted to calm him down. Soon after, Kandi decided to leave for another hotel and Kim booked an earlier flight.
This scene was one of the most disturbing ever aired on the Real Housewives of Atlanta. We’ve seen several unnecessary fights between female cast members, but watching a raging man attempt to assert his authority through verbal and physical violence was disgusting, frightening, and worthy of exclusion.
Drama drives ratings, which is the reason Glen’s behavior was included, but the subsequent attempt to justify his abuse reinforces the very patriarchy that fueled it.
Unsurprisingly, none of the cast members sided with Moore. Sheree Whitfield, an original cast member who rejoined this season, insisted that Rice’s behavior could have been avoided “if Kenya had minded her own business.”
Kim agreed, saying that Kenya’s meddling was the catalyst for Glen’s anger. “Shake a hornet’s nest and then be surprised when a whole bunch of hornets come out at you?”
It’s understandable that the ladies are frustrated with Kenya. Her attention-seeking antics are draining. However, nothing justifies abuse. Clearly, Glen has underlying anger issues that fueled his reaction. Instead of focusing on if he was provoked, the Georgia peaches should use this incident to inform themselves about the impact of domestic and intimate partner violence on Black women.
Some of the ladies, including Phaedra and Sheree, are unwilling to concede that Glen’s behavior was unacceptable. Instead, they used the incident to again center Black men in the Black Lives Matter narratives.
While eating lunch together, Sheree said that Black women “have to be careful about labeling” Black men. Phaedra chimed in, saying that Kenya was “like any white woman in suburbia that becomes afraid” and Glen “did not do anything.”
He knocked his aunt unconscious. He threatened Kenya and referred to all of the women as “hoes.” Labeling abusive Black men as abusive doesn’t perpetuate the Brute stereotype. Historically, the Brute caricature “portrays black men as innately savage, animalistic, destructive, and criminal – deserving punishment, maybe death,” according to sociologist David Pilgrim. Often, the brute caricature was used to justify lynchings, since Black men posed an innate threat to helpless white women.
How we label Black men matters, especially since we’re still navigating difficult terrain around the dismantling of the Brute trope. Seeing Black men as dangerous can cost them their lives. However, Black women are under attack in our own communities. Intraracial domestic violence is one of the leading causes of death for Black women ages 15 to 35. The Dallas Morning News also reports that Black women are “three times more likely to die at the hands of a partner or ex-partner than members of other racial groups.”
Yet, we’re unlikely to report intraracial abuse because of the same logic Phaedra and Sheree used. Black men are seen as an endangered species, so reporting their abusive behavior to law enforcement only perpetuates the stereotype that Black men are dangerous. However, excusing Glen’s behavior by blaming Kenya assures him. He might believe that he behaved correctly. This probably isn’t the first time Glen was abusive toward women. Using excuses like “Kenya provoked him” shields Glen from consequence and also insures that this won’t be his last violence incident.
On Instagram, Kenya wrote, “Women need to stop making excuses for abusive men.” For once, Kenya got it right.