Kenya Moore Apologizes for 'Disrespectful' Native American-Themed Costume: 'I Regret It'
Kenya Moore is apologizing after receiving backlash for wearing a Native American headdress on Sunday's episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Moore called her Halloween costume "disrespectful and insensitive."
"I want to sincerely apologize for inappropriately wearing the Native American headdress as a costume," she said. "I now realize that this was both disrespectful and insensitive and would never have done it if I had that knowledge and understanding beforehand. I regret it. When you know better, you do better. I am genuinely sorry."
Bravo also addressed the incident, telling PEOPLE in a statement that the network "did not address this properly given the gravity of the situation."
"Bravo aims to have the highest standards of respect and inclusivity and we recognize that the recent episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, in which a cast member wears a Native American costume, did not uphold those values. We had hoped it would provide a teachable moment, however, in retrospect, it is clear that the network did not address this properly given the gravity of the situation. We apologize to both the Native American community and our audience as a whole."
Moore, 50, wore the outfit, which she dubbed a "Warrior Princess" costume, during a Halloween party at the home of Falynn Guobadia. The ensemble immediately caught the attention of her costars and fans, with many expressing their discomfort with Moore's choice of attire.
"Kenya's Native American costume is super problematic but I ain't trying to ruffle no feathers for this girls trip," said Drew Sidora, 35, during a confessional, adding with a laugh, "It feels like I'm always the only one that sees the issues with Kenya Moore's decisions."
"Kenya is a Native American warrior. I thought we weren't doing that no more," said Porsha Williams, 39. "Like, I knew that this girl was crazy, but add lame to the list, add whack to the list."
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Moore's apology comes after she initially defended the costume in a since-deleted tweet on Sunday, writing in response to one piece of criticism that it was "also part of my heritage."
On Monday, IllumiNative — a Native-led nonprofit focused on raising visibility of Native issues and voices — called Moore out for the costume in a lengthy statement.
"Costumes that mock Native peoples, defame our traditions and cultures, and perpetuate negative stereotypes are racist. 'Playing Indian' is a form of mascotry that is not just offensive, it is part of a long history of how Native peoples have been dehumanized," the statement began. "Countless research studies show the harm these images, actions, and the normalization of these behaviors have on our youth."
"We are also incredibly concerned that none of the producers or executives at @bravotv, @comcast, @nbcuniversal intervened although several cast members commented on how uncomfortable, unnecessary, and offensive the costume was on camera. The series has had several instances of racism and offensive behavior and yet it seems no training, procedures, or standards have been sent to stop offensive acts, which go against the values @comcast professes to have."
"It is important that @bravotv, @comcast, @nbcuniversal, @bravoandy and @thekenyamoore apologize for the harm they have caused Native peoples and commit to ensuring offensive displays like this never happen again. Native people are not a costume."
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