Kathryn Dennis faced backlash for using a monkey emoji in an interaction with a Black radio show host last summer

By Jodi Guglielmi
January 07, 2021 10:15 PM
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Leva Bonaparte, Kathryn Dennis
Credit: Kathryn Dennis/Instagram; Inset: John Valkos/Bravo

Not all of Kathryn Dennis' friends are buying into her new relationship.

On Thursday's supersized episode of Southern Charm, Kathryn continued to deal with the fallout after she was accused of racism for using a monkey emoji in an interaction with a Black radio show host last summer. (Kathryn previously apologized for the racially insensitive incident, acknowledging that her use of the emoji "was offensive.")

"I feel like my whole world is literally crumbling," she said. "Especially with the whole emoji situation, that has been devastating."

At lunch with Shep Rose, Kathryn brought up her relationship with her new boyfriend, Chleb Ravenell. She said the two started dating before the scandal but chose not to go public out of concern that people would think the relationship was "convenient."

"My boyfriend is Black," she said. "Chleb and I have known each other since … we started flirting and kind of hanging out probably before the quarantine. [It was] a few months ago, I don't know the exact date."

"As I'm talking to Leva [Bonaparte] about the monkey emoji, well, I could easily be like, 'Yeah, well, I do have a Black boyfriend.' But I'm not going to say that because I don't want people to be like, 'Oh, that's convenient,'" she added.

And Leva did come to that conclusion. After learning about the relationship, Leva — who is the Bravo show's first cast member of color — said she felt like the timing was "strategic."

"I didn't really think it was real," she said. "That was her strategic move, I guess."

"Banging a Black guy doesn't make you woke," she added.

Leva Bonaparte, Kathryn Dennis
Credit: John Valkos/Bravo; Tommy Garcia/Bravo

Kathryn confirmed her romance with Chleb in October with a loved-up photo of the pair on Instagram.

"They've been dating a few months now," a source told PEOPLE of the couple in July. "They have good chemistry together."

"He's met the kids and is good with them," the source added of Kathryn's two children, Kensie, 6, and son Saint, 4, whom she shares with ex Thomas Ravenel. (No relation to Chleb Ravenell.)

Relationship speculation aside, Kathryn's friends had a bone to pick with the reality star on Thursday's episode. Her longtime friend Danni Baird said she felt betrayed when Kathryn chose to turn to Leva for advice during the scandal instead of her.

When the three ended up at the same beach party, Leva tried to get the two friends to work out their issues — but it didn't go well. Danni immediately broke down in tears, while Kathryn refused to talk through their issues in front of the rest of the group.

southern charm
The season 7 cast of Southern Charm
| Credit: John Valkos/Tommy Garcia/Bravo

Things escalated when Leva approached Kathryn to assure her that she wasn't "against" her, prompting Austen Kroll to interject.

"She feels attacked by every woman on this boat," Austen said, which set Leva off.

"Every woman? Hold up. She and I have some issues that honestly affected my family and my child," she said, telling Austen to "shut the f--- up" when he tried to interrupt again. "She said some s--- that affected my f---ing child and my husband and I was decent enough to have a conversation with her, because I communicated with her how offensive that s--- was."

"Leva! Stop saying shut the f---- up, I'm serious," Kroll shot back. "Quit yelling at me for no reason. Are you crazy? Have you lost your mind?"

"I didn't even come to address you," she responded.

"You didn't, yet you said 'shut the f---- up' three times," he said.

The rest of the group took notice of the altercation and began stepping in, causing more chaos.

"I don't give a f---!" Austen shouted.

Speaking to PEOPLE last month, Leva, who is Iranian by descent but spent most of her childhood in Canada and South America, said she was glad the show is tackling "these awkward topics" this season.

"I really pray and hope that it resonates with the viewer and it allows people to understand that we can have these awkward conversations," she said. "And as you tune into the season, you see things boil to the surface and some things get resolved and some things don't, but at the end of the day, there's no hate."

Southern Charm airs Thursdays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

• ColorofChange.org tries to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.