After watching the premiere of Season 9 of Basketball Wives, I temporarily tried to play devil’s advocate concerning Evelyn Lozada and Ogom “OG” Chijindu. The ladies made it clear in the season opener that they’re standing their ground when it comes to where they are with one another. OG fervently believes Evelyn is a racist and colorist, while Evelyn believes OG made the use of a simple monkey gif that had nothing to do with her as a way to get attention, and the consequences were unfair and serious for her.
Watching Evelyn speak to Feby about the situation, she opened up about her defamation lawsuit against OG, said she needed to move out of fear over some threats made by OG’s supporters, and she cried. The tears were somewhat convincing because I thought to myself, could there have been a misunderstanding? Perhaps in trying to go toe-to-toe with her co-star, Evelyn said some harsh things that could have been blown out of proportion. Is she really a racist and a colorist though?
After some thought, I honestly can’t rule out completely that she isn’t. Sorry, Ev.
When she gets riled up enough, she has a penchant for saying really ugly things about people. We all heard her call CeCe Gutierrez “Lee Lee” during a heated argument in Season 7. The name was supposed to be an attempt to identify CeCe with “the nail lady” at salons, who are often Vietnamese. CeCe is actually Filipina. And even before Evelyn knew the girl, she was out here joking that CeCe was giving “happy endings” at her medspa.
Both of those cases were classic examples of an individual being “antagonistic toward a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group,” which is part of the definition of “racist” when used as an adjective.
As for being colorist, there was nothing that was so egregious as her calling OG a name associated with anti-blackness, but along with the rest of her castmates, the colorism displayed was low-key. Evelyn may have called OG “ugly” simply because she felt that way. However, we haven’t heard her call anyone else she’s bumped heads with that, and OG does have traditionally African features as a Nigerian woman with a darker complexion. And she was the one who initially pushed for OG to be separated from the cast during the reunion, claiming that her aggressive behavior couldn’t be trusted and she didn’t feel safe. And we all know “aggressive” was a term thrown around carelessly by the ladies (especially Shaunie O’Neal) in reference to OG. Now, I can’t definitively say she used a laughing monkey gif in reference to her co-star, but I can say the message it accompanied, about nobody watching you more than someone who can’t stand you, wasn’t for her “kids” as she feigned last night.
All that being said, I do believe it’s unfortunate that Evelyn has faced possible threats that have made her feel unsafe and that she feels the need to pick up and move over them. And while I respect that she’s been baptized and is getting to show a charitable side of herself on the show, she did everything but address the ways in which she’s moving on from the problematic behavior that people have viewed as racist and colorist, even if she doesn’t believe that she is either of those things. She missed an opportunity to come out of the gate apologetic if anything she said or did was offensive to viewers, and to OG, while still standing by her belief that she’s been wrongly labeled. That would have been a great start.
But by turning everything around to make herself a victim of a smear campaign that somehow just came out of nowhere, it didn’t give the vibe that she changed as much as she was trying to convey. And how does one try to play peacemaker among the other women while not acknowledging their own actions with a person in the group? How it came off to me certainly doesn’t matter in Evelyn’s journey to do and be better, but I must say it felt inauthentic.
Nevertheless, I hope at some point in this season, Evelyn can get a better understanding from OG about what led to her receiving a racist and colorist impression of her, along with many Black women viewers. I think that’s what she’s missing. OG didn’t push others to look at Evelyn as those things. Instead, it was her own comments that created that conversation online. In fact, people were calling Evelyn a racist and colorist on Twitter before OG ever made mention of it in the last episodes of Season 8 and at the reunion.
Shaunie at least seems open to hearing OG out (a good dragging from Black Twitter will do that…). But with Evelyn’s defamation lawsuit against her ongoing, we won’t hold our breath waiting for a kumbaya between those two.