From Real Housewife To Real Humanity: The Complexities Of Phaedra Parks

Phaedra Parks may rub people the wrong way as a Housewife of Atlanta, but there's so much more to her beyond the small screen.

It’s not top secret information that The Real Housewives of Atlanta star Phaedra Parks is seen by many as problematic.

Her role on the reality show was often southern belle, queen of the quips and the shadiest (peach) tree you could find south of the Mason Dixon line. But there’s something many of us Black folks say on repeat: We are not a monolith.

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Black people are often portrayed as one thing, especially those we consume on salacious reality TV shows, but we are more than that. In Phaedra’s own words, “Black women are mosaic. We are diverse in nature.”

And as such, during Essence Festival’s first day of the Empowerment Experience — which included interviews and panels from activists, celebrities and more — we got the chance to experience the mosaic that is Phaedra Parks. Here are all the surprising and beautiful colors that make up the parts of Phaedra that we may not be well acquainted with.

RELATED: Kandi Burruss Says She And Phaedra Parks ‘Can Never Talk Again’ After RHOA Drugging Allegations

She Gives Back:

Phaedra has two biological children, but she takes care of so many. She has sent 150 kids to overnight camp with YMCA. She also recently brought these to Atlanta for a college tour. 

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The Phaedra Foundation serves the community and specifically Black men through her Save Our Sons initiative. Phaedra says, “Black men have toughest role in the United States and we cannot remain silent. Save Our Sons provides youth with resources and life-skills to ensure academic, social and intellectual success.

She’s Faithful:

RELATED: Phaedra Parks Admits To Mistakes She Made With Kandi Burruss: 'I Was Being Petty'

Both of Phaedra’s parents are minister, so faith has always been an important factor in her life. She told the ESSENCE crowd that she walks by faith and not by fear. “No matter what happens, if God never does anything else for me, I have three houses, a plethora of cars, two children, great parents, I’m proud and beautiful.”

She’s Teachable:

Phaedra says that The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan is her mentor and has been teaching her the principles of the Nation of Islam over the last 10 years. “Yes, 10,000 fearless,” Phaedra replied to the audience member who screamed “10,000 fearless!” after she expressed her devotion to the Nation.

She’s Into Politics:

“I love politics!” Phaedra said when asked about running for office. Then she revealed that running for political office was definitely in her future because people are looking for something new. “People want a new voice and I can lend my voice to that.”

She’s Insightful:

Phaedra ended her Empowerment chat with a quotable that made the audience boisterously agree in unison. She said, “In order to be your best self, take care of yourself. Become a fountain and not a drink.” Those may be the types of gems you’ll find in Phaedra’s future book. She shared she’s working on a book and after that nugget, we’re ready to read it!

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Well, as a black woman, I know that we are more than what is portrayed on reality TV. I understand that black women are mosaic and we need to be represented at all times and we need to show that we are not only multifaceted but that we are very diverse in nature. And so I have wanted to show that black women are intelligent, black women are innovative, and black women do most things better than anybody else [APPLAUSE] not because we've always wanted to, but because as black women we have had to, okay? [APPLAUSE] Speak now. So it has been very important to me to make sure that my portrayal on TV has shown that you can survive, you can be resilient. You can go through a life and maintain your dignity and do it with some sense of class. Very good. Television is a tough business and the purpose of television is obviously to entertain and sometimes at the expense of the people who are doing the entertaining and so it's a very hard platform to you to obviously maintain. Certain things on because it is a platform where they have the power to edit and make things appear as though they're one thing but it's really something totally different. But, you know, you can't live with regrets because, what I do know is, the size of your problem is sometimes indicative of the magnitude of your destiny. And so, it's well with me because I know that You know, I'm bigger than an hour show. I'm bigger that 12 minutes that you see me on the screen. I'm bigger than one day that you have watched me because i've been living over 40 years. So catch that.
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