Eboni Williams, 34
Fox News Host and Author
Unafraid to unabashedly share her opinion on the airwaves, Fox News Host, Eboni Williams, is certainly a woman to watch. Raised by a single mom in Charlotte, Williams faced a litany of obstacles throughout her career, not least that she was a strong, opinionated black woman, attributes which she says were hurled her way as derogatory. ”Society might have its rules and expectations of you, reject them at every turn and insist upon your own exceptionalism,” she says.
This exceptionalism has lead to her hosting her own radio show, releasing her book PRETTY POWERFUL: Appearance, Substance & Success and contributing her inspiring message to the world.
1. What made you choose this career path? What has been your greatest achievement?
Since I was a child I had a loud voice and strong opinion, so I thought it best to put it to productive use. As a litigator, multimedia host and now as an author, I'm privileged to lend my voice to the voiceless and otherwise empower women, men and children who otherwise might not be heard.
My greatest achievement has been hosting a show on the #1 cable news network while hosting a talk radio show and releasing a bestselling book at the same time. I never considered myself a multi-tasker, but I became one in 2017
2. What’s the biggest criticism/stereotype/judgement you’ve faced in your career?
As I write in the 'Mean Girls' chapter of my book, I was told I was too young, too strong in my opinion and black...all reasons I wouldn't be able to be hired by Fox News or able to host a show. All proved ignorantly wrong.
All throughout my life false narratives of society and media said as an only child to a single, high school educated mom, I would repeat her pattern of a struggling single black mom. She made sure I didn't and we worked to reject that stereotypical noise at every turn.
3. How did you #SWAAYthenarrative? What was the reaction by those who told you you “couldn’t” do it?
Shirley Chisholm is an iconic role model of mine. She was the first black woman to serve in the US congress and she said if they don't invite you to the table, bring your own chair and pull up a seat. I LOVE bringing my own chair and crashing the party.
4. What did you learn through your personal journey?
I SWAAYed the narrative by having key individuals (a strong mom, teachers, community members) that nourished my talent and told me I could do ANYTHING I worked for. I was never talked to about glass ceilings or limitations...only personal ambition. Narratives are all about social norms and "rules." In a world of other people's "rules" I've always elected to be my own exception.
5. What’s your number one piece of advice to women discouraged by preconceived notions and society’s limitations?
Bet on yourself. Don't concern yourself with a million "no's" only focus on the one "YES" that you need. Society might have its rules and expectations of you, reject them at every turn and insist upon your own exceptionalism.
Elizabeth Warren majorly called out "arrogant billionaire" Michael Bloomberg for his history of silencing women through NDAs and closed-door settlement negotiations. Sound familiar? Probably because we already have a president like that. At this point, Bloomberg may just spend the remainder of his (hopefully) ill-fated presidential campaign roasting on a spit over a fire sparked by the righteous anger of women. A lesser punishment than he deserves, if you ask me.
At last night's Democratic debate, Michael Bloomberg could barely stammer out an answer to a question on whether or not he would release any of his former accusers from their nondisclosure agreements. His unsatisfactory response was basically a halting list of what he has done for certain nondescript women in his time at City Hall and within his own company.
But that certainly wasn't enough for Elizabeth Warren, nor should it be, who perfectly rephrased his defense as, "I've been nice to some women." Michael Bloomberg is basically that weird, problematic Uncle that claims he can't be racist, "Because I have a Black friend." In a society where power is almost always in the hands of straight, white, cisgendered, men being "nice" to a lucky few is in no way a defense for benefiting from and building upon the systematic silencing of all marginalized communities, let alone women. Stop and frisk, anybody?
Here is a brief clip of the Warren v. Bloomberg exchange, which I highly recommend. It is absolutely (and hilariously) savage.
But let's talk about the deeper issues at hand here (other than Warren being an eloquent badass).
Michael Bloomberg has been sued multiple times, yet each time he was able to snake his way out of the problem with the help of his greatest and only superpower: cold, hard cash. Each time these allegations have come up, in Warren's words, he throws "a chunk of money at the table" and "forces the woman to wear a muzzle for the rest of her life."
As reported by Claire Lampen of The Cut, here are just a few of his prior indiscretions.
- Pregnancy discrimination—Bloomberg reportedly told a former employee of his to "kill it," in reference to her developing fetus.
- Sexual harassment—You could literally write a book on this subject (someone did), but for the sake of brevity...
"I'd like to do that piece of meat" - Michael Bloomberg in reference to various women at his company.
- Undermining #MeToo—Not only did he defend the accused, but he went on the disparage accusers every step of the way.
- Defaming transgender people—Though he claims to support trans rights, he has also been qupted multiple times as referring to trans women as "some guy wearing a dress."
Furthermore, Warren points out the simple fact that if, as Bloomberg claims, these instances were simply big misunderstandings (He was just joking around!) then why go to all the trouble to cover them up? Does Michael Bloomberg think women can't take a joke? Or can we only surmise that the truth of these events are far darker and dirtier than we could even imagine?
Certain commentators have called Elizabeth Warren's debate presence "agressive," especially in regards to this instance but also continually throughout her entire campaign. If asking poignant questions to known abusers who are seeking to further their own political power is considered "aggressive," then I am here for it. Bring on the aggressive women, please and thank you.
Calling a woman aggressive for being confidant and direct is a gendered complaint. You don't see anyone whining that Bernie is "aggressive" when he goes off on a screaming tangent. Also, have you seen our president? He's basically the poster boy for political temper tantrums. But still, it's Warren that is deemed "aggressive," for honing in on the exact issues that need to be considered in this upcoming election.
This type of derisory label is another aspect of how our society silences women—much like Bloomberg and his NDAs. Because "silencing" is more than just putting a "muzzle" on someone. It's refusing to listen to a person's cries for help. It's disregarding what a woman has to say, because she's too "aggressive." It's taking away someone's power by refusing to truly hear their side of the story. Because if you aren't listening, responding, or even just respecting someone's words, they may well have said nothing at all.
"Silence is the ocean of the unsaid, the unspeakable, the repressed, the erased, the unheard." - Renecca Solnit
Nondiscolusure agreements are a legal gag for people who have experienced harassment and abuse at the hands of those above them.
Gretchen Carlson, possibly the most famous person subject to an NDA, is one of these people. Her story is so well-known that it has even been immortalized on film, in 2019's Bombshell. Yet she is still forced to maintain her silence. She cannot tell her side of the story even when Hollywood can. She was cajoled into her current position after facing harassment in her workplace. She didn't have the power then to do more than accept her fate. And now, she doesn't have the power to tell her story.
She was, and still is being, silenced.
After her experiences, Carlson was moved to fight for all women to have the power over their truths. In a recent op-ed for the New York Times she declared: "I want my voice back. I want it back for me, and for all those silenced by forced arbitration and NDAs."
Carlson may still be tied to her NDA, but there are those who go a different route. Celeste Headlee, who wrote an op-ed on SWAAY about her experience, chose to break her nondisclosure agreement. Though doing so undoubtedly opened her up to numerous legal ramifications, she knew that she could no longer "sign away [her] right to justice."
Because that is what an NDA is all about, signing away a person's right to justice. Their story is their justice. Their NDA is a lock and key. Headlee may have broken through that lock, but she must face the consequences.
Neither Carlson nor Headlee are any less brave for how they have handled their journeys. They are both actively working to shift the cultural and political norms that led them here, and their work will, with hope and time, lead to real change. But they are just two drops in an ocean of women who are held hostage by their nondisclosure agreements, by men like Michael Bloomberg, and by a society that would rather silence them than let truth and justice be had.