Leah McSweeney is ready for change — and she wants it to start in the Big Apple.
The newest “Real Housewives of New York” star, 37, has been actively protesting with the Black Lives Matter movement and is part of Bravo’s special “Race in America: A Movement Not a Moment” airing Sunday. But she thinks there’s more that can be done on the network — especially on her show.
“I hope that there’s not only diversity of race, but an even deeper diversity of where someone lives or what their interests are,” McSweeney told Page Six. “I hope that there’s just more diversity all across the board because New Yorkers are not a monolith, obviously. I think that it is gonna head in that direction.”
“RHONY” has been criticized in the past for its lack of women of color in the cast.
The Married to the Mob founder said much of the information in the special didn’t come as a shock to her.
“I have a lot of black friends, and I hear a lot of stories from them about racism and the s–t they have to deal with,” she told us. “But it never stops being shocking and appalling to hear someone’s personal stories, you know?”
She recalled how Garcelle Beauvais, the first black cast member on “RHOBH,” spoke on the special about “going into a store and they said, ‘Oh, why don’t you look at these? These are like, less expensive items.’ It is never not shocking to me.”
“I think it’s so hard for a lot of white people to understand and to even process it because it’s something we’re not used to dealing with,” she added. “I walk into a store, people think that I’m gonna shop my ass off because I’m white. They’re not thinking that I’m going to steal something or that I can’t afford something. That’s what my black friends have to deal with.”
McSweeney was, however, surprised when “RHOA” star Portia Williams said that people once thought she was the dog walker. “I’ve never seen a dog walker look like Portia, have you? I mean, she’s, like, very glamorous, very sexy. I don’t know what kind of dog walker looks like that.”
McSweeney hopes the special will move people to become allies, even though she doesn’t really like that term.
“When we’re talking about race and racism — why do we even have the word ‘ally?’” she wondered. “This is an everyone problem. ‘Ally’ shouldn’t even be a thing. Everyone should be against racism, no matter what freaking color you are, no matter where you’re from. It’s truly a very evil idea, racism in general. So it should be, across the board, completely looked down upon and destroyed.”
“In terms of being an ally,” she added, “I think it’s just like, acknowledging racism exists. That’s the other thing — people who say, ‘I don’t see color.’ I’m like, stop. Come on. That’s insane to say. I understand that’s a white person wanting to sound like they’re saying the right thing — it’s actually not the right thing to say — but they have good intentions.”
But she says, “We also need to draw a line where someone says something and it’s clearly a mistake, right? Or [we need to ask ourselves], can they learn from it? So we have to see things in a nuanced way as well … I think, as uncomfortable as the discussion can be, people need to be able to feel like they can discuss it.”
“Race in America: A Movement Not a Moment,” produced by Dorothy Toran and Leslie Farrell of Lauren Grace Media, airs Sunday at 10 p.m. ET.