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Reality star alumnus and podcast host Eboni K. Williams had a talk with Iyanla Vanzant that went viral. Why? Because Williams told Vanzant she wouldn’t date a bus driver unless he owned the bus.

Williams talked to Vanzant for the Grio. The women bonded over what they described as “alpha” traits that include being able to take care of themselves and earn money without the benefit of a male partner. However, Vanzant said that many women are leading with “masculine aggressiveness” that may be impeding their search for companionship.

“I’ve yet to have a male energy that provided or protected me consistently ever,” Williams said. Her father was not in her life. “I think that I have taken on the reigns to provide and protect for myself. ‘Cause what I’m not going to do, Iyanla, is be without.”

She continued, “Be without protection and be without the necessities of life. But I say that with an invitation, Iyanla; check me! Show me the error of my ways; show me how I might be missing it — because I might be.”

Iyanla responded by asking if Williams would date a bus driver.

“If he owns the bus,” Williams said. “If he owns it.”

Vanzant, the 69-year-old teacher and author who was the host of Iyanla Fix My Life on OWN, which helped celebrities and regular folks heal from various childhood traumas, responded,“ That’s a problem. Because the standards and requisites, the standards and criteria that we use to measure men is off for who we are as women and who they are in this society.”

She told Williams, “I would date a bus driver if he loved driving the bus, if he was a man of integrity, if he loved his mama, if he loved me well; I would date a bus driver.”

Some people advocated for Williams’ point of view, others for Vanzant’s. Williams’ Grio colleague, educator and author Marc Lamont Hill had his say on the matter, as did DJ Envy of The Breakfast Club. 

“We shouldn’t be defining people by their labor,” Hill said. “There is dignity in all labor, whether you drive the bus, whether you own the bus, it doesn’t matter, you’re a human being with character and personality and interests and that should be the primary thing we ask for when we’re looking for relationships. Is this person good for me?”

Williams doubled down on her comments in a response saying that she supported the ascension of Black men and that there was nothing wrong with driving a bus, as her own mother was once a bus driver.

“So out of the 50,000 plus comments posted on social, I only saw a handful that even considered the possibility of a bus owner being a more aspirational position and recognizing that I am actually speaking and pouring into the ascension of Black men when I said what I said,” Williams said in her response video. “But no, some of y’all were too busy naming and shaming me personally — and Black women in general — as undesirable, gold-diggers and much worse.”

But in a subsequent interview on The Breakfast Club, Williams told Envy he was “deadass wrong” for saying her comments were inflammatory.

Envy responded by saying, “I feel like you’re changing the goalposts.” He added, “People were upset because they felt like you were putting down the average person, quote unquote average job, the person that was working the average job, that what they do is not as good as what you do.”

Williams characterized that as a “projection.”

Envy also said that while Williams was talking about uplifting Black people, she also dated white men. And he told Williams that what “average” workers do is essential.

“I”m speaking for the ‘average’ person out there. Because I feel for them, because the bus drivers and the ‘average’ person are what keeps these lights on The Breakfast Club.”

Though she made some good points on The Breakfast Club, Williams’ initial response and how it landed was critiqued by none other than Hannah Nickole Jones, the creator of The 1619 Project.

“My daddy drove a bus but my daddy was far from average,” Jones wrote in Williams’ Instagram comments. “And he certainly didn’t drive a bus because he wasn’t ambitious enough to want to do better or bought into the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’ and he’d certainly never quite George Bush to talk down in Black working-class people. This is so disappointing. Date who you want. Keep Black folks trying to make it out of it.”

Twitter wasn’t happy with Williams’ comments. See the comments below:

Eboni K. Williams Says She Wouldn’t Date A Bus Driver, Twitter Goes In  was originally published on