Ellie Kemper apologizes: ‘I unequivocally deplore, denounce & reject white supremacy’

69th Emmy Awards

A week ago, one of the big gossip/pop-culture stories was Ellie Kemper and her past as a debutante. Ellie is from a very wealthy St. Louis family, and wealthy, old-money families like hers want their daughters to take part in local debutante balls. Much of the time, the debutante balls are steeped in history and that history can be pretty brutal, gross, racist and Confederate. So it was with the debutante ball in St. Louis. It was formerly called the Veiled Prophet Ball and it had been started by a former Confederate officer during Reconstruction. The original Veiled Prophet Ball was basically KKK-lite, and the young women who were crowned Queen of Love and Beauty were made to, like, pledge fealty to a Grand Wizard-type in white robes and a hood. The name of the ball was changed in 1979 and it stopped being all-white, twenty years before Ellie took part in it. When people on Twitter found the old photos of Kemper being named the Queen of Love and Beauty though, the ball’s tortured history came up. Well, a week passed and Ellie is finally saying something:

Ellie Kemper has spoken out about her past participation in a controversial Missouri debutante ball. Last week, the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt actress came under fire when photos surfaced of her being crowned the “Queen of Love and Beauty” at the Veiled Prophet Ball (now called the Fair Saint Louis) in 1999. The Veiled Prophet Organization was originally co-founded in the late 1800s by former Confederate officer Charles Slayback and other prominent white St. Louisans, who only permitted white people to participate up until 1979.

Kemper, 41, addressed the situation in a statement on Instagram Monday.

“Hi guys, when I was 19 years old, I decided to participate in a debutante ball in my hometown,” she began. “The century-old organization that hosted the debutante ball had an unquestionably racist, sexist and elitist past. I was not aware of the history at the time, but ignorance is no excuse. I was old enough to have educated myself before getting involved. I unequivocally deplore, denounce, and reject white supremacy. At the same time, I acknowledge that because of my race and my privilege, I am the beneficiary of a system that has dispensed unequal justice and unequal rewards.”

Addressing the backlash she received, the actress wrote, “There is a very natural temptation when you become the subject of internet criticism, to tell yourself that your detractors are getting it all wrong. But at some point last week, I realized that a lot of the forces behind the criticism are forces that I’ve spent my life supporting and agreeing with. I believe strongly in the values of kindness, integrity and inclusiveness. I try to live my life in accordance with these values. If my experience is an indication that organizations and institutions with pasts that fall short of these beliefs should be held to account, then I have to see this experience in a positive light.”

In a statement to PEOPLE on June 1, the Veiled Prophet Organization denounced racism.

“The VP organization is dedicated to civic progress, economic contributions and charitable causes in St. Louis,” the statement began. “Our organization believes in and promotes inclusion, diversity and equality for this region. We absolutely reject racism and have never partnered or associated with any organization that harbors these beliefs.”

Kemper ended her own statement on Monday with an apology.

“I want to apologize to the people I’ve disappointed, and I promise that moving forward I will listen, continue to educate myself, and use my privilege in support of the better society I think we’re capable of becoming,” she wrote. “Thanks for reading this.”

[From People]

Whoever is writing the apologies for celebrities these days is doing a much better job, right? It used to be that we had to make do with Notes-app apologies starting with “I’m sorry you were offended.” Like, I think Ellie f–ked up when she was 19 years old. She knows she did and she’s sorry. She knows she benefited from white supremacy and she has the debutante photos to prove it. It’s more than likely that she had some idea of the racist past of the organization and ball when she was 19, but she was told “but everything’s fine now, we promise.” It is what it is – I’m not saying she should be forgiven, nor am I saying that there aren’t larger issues at play here. For me, the bigger issue is that the Veiled Prophet Organization still exists, still has those superficial and substantive ties to their Confederate, all-white past, and still hosts this f–ked up debutante ball which only got a modest rebrand in 1979.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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73 Responses to “Ellie Kemper apologizes: ‘I unequivocally deplore, denounce & reject white supremacy’”

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  1. Wiglet Watcher says:

    That took a while.

    This sounds well thought out hitting all the points. She did benefit. She was willfully ignorant. It’s tough in that privilege bubble to even want to know the pain others suffer outside of it that keeps you feeling safe and warm.

    Idk. I’m still mixed on her. This statement took too long considering this photo came out before. But she does have her career to save. Or else she would continue to rely more heavily on that family money made on the values she denounces here.

    • Keats says:

      I wonder in situations like this whether it would be better to have a short “I’m sorry, a more thoughtful apology is on its way” statement or what? Because this one did take a while, but I’m sure a lot of people were involved in the creation of this statement.

    • goofpuff says:

      I would have believed her more if she just admitted that she was a part of that cult back then and did what everyone expected of her. Instead of pretending to be “ignorant” of the racism. The feigning ‘ignorance’ is just too much. People like her are “ignorant” of the racism in front of them because they want to pretend what is happening in front of them isn’t racism because it’s benefiting them. I see it all the time and its painful to witness.

      • Sandy123 says:

        I saw this story on a website a long time ago and can’t understand why it didn’t gain more traction at that time. I think people in her set know full well about the history of these bizarre rituals and don’t have any problem with it. It’s nice to see her acknowledge it now, but she could have spoken out about it a long time ago. Perhaps the site I originally saw this on was not very popular, I don’t know. But this is old news. Her current apology’s timing is suspect and perhaps she believes more advantageous. I never watcher her show so she’s not on my radar, but my god, a semi-intelligent person has to know that ritual is suspect and creepy without exploring it too deeply.

      • Delphine says:

        I think it’s fair to say that a lot of white people were living in a bubble in 1999 in that they weren’t as aware of systemic racism or even their own privilege as they are today.

    • Murphy says:

      She probably had to have several lawyers approve it.

      • Maria says:

        And? This is a longer time of silence than a lot of celebrity statements honestly.
        It’s a possibility she just wanted to wait to see if this would blow over and she wouldn’t have to talk.

  2. Oh_Hey says:

    From what I’ve been reading this is an unpopular opinion but one that I think is just being drowned out – this uproar is not really about Ellie Kemper nor should it be.

    She is a famous entry point but I’m not a huge Kimmie Schidmt fan or fan of hers. She’s also spoken about this before it seems. I really care about why the racist institution her parents signed her up for still exists and we’re just acting like it’s ok. Like they let one or two black people into their weird power brokering Klan based ball so it’s fine now. That’s the real conversation and so many “liberal” people are so focused on not cancelling Ellie Kemper that they are inadvertently defending the actual thing that people are upset about. Every fiber of my black body is set on equality and removing these sorts of behind the scenes classist, racist spaces not destroying an actress from a Netflix show but you wouldn’t guess from the internet and the news this week

    • Renata says:

      Well said. I like Ellie but yeah, I wish this apology was more focused on dismantling this debutante ball rather than fixing her reputation. And the white people who have run to her “rescue” have also majorly missed the point. (Rescue in quotes since we all know she was always going to be just fine.)

      • KNy says:

        I think that if she did try to address the entire system (which I agree is the heart of the problem and not a 19 year old young woman), it might have come off as deflecting her own part in it. I bet there were several versions of this apology and the ones that focused on calling out the existence of that ball and all it stood for maybe didn’t come off so well, or seemed like she wasn’t taking responsibility. Who knows?

    • Nouri says:

      I was a kimmy Schmidt fan but that’s a show I watched once and that’s enough. I knew her from the Office and she has so many hilarious scenes and lines in it . I loved her acting in the office and the way they wrote her character was quite interesting.
      Her apology was great but people who get involved with this during the highschool age aren’t what keeps it around. It’s not an event put on by high-school age people. Though highschool age girls and woman may be the glitter on the event it’s a male focused event. I’m guessing the veiled one is an old guy. An old veiled guy choosing a 19 year old as a princess? The sexism is revolting to me. The costumes look racist because they look like kkk, the premise is classist if any women coming out there do marry local rich men, but for women like Ellie (who I’m pretty sure didn’t marry a local) the sexism is the most striking to me. I don’t know her personal feelings but I’d look back on it as something very creepy, objectifying and patriarchal.

    • Willow says:

      Oh yes, because when we talk about generational wealth and systemic racism, we are talking about organizations like this. And it never works to just make a few changes. The best thing would be for a new organization to be created and let the other wither away.

      • Christa says:

        I agree but would like to add, though I know it will be unpopular, that these attacks on people who did something ignorant when they were a teenager and expecting them to apologize, is pretty lame. Especially when it happened when the internet was pretty basic in terms of information available to research stuff. I mean are they thinking she should have gone to some library and done research on it? Not many people are going to do that. Teenagers are mostly pretty dumb about life and to expect otherwise is setting this up as a faux controversy. Unless they want to be constantly let down in life, the standards for teenage behavior in the 1990s and before should not be that high. The real problem, IMO, are the social forces that allow these organizations to persist. So over singling people out for dumb shit they did when they were teenagers.

      • WTF says:

        @Christa
        She wasn’t some wide-eyed innocent young girl. She was at an Ivy League college when she came home to participate in this foolishness. This isn’t an attack. It is accountability. She was free not to accept responsibility or apologize. She’s apologizing for her terrible, terrible judgment, and you’re here still trying to give her a pass for it. FFS

      • Oy_Hey says:

        Agree with WTF above
        Also @ Christa that reasoning is why I wrote my comment originally. I do think Ellie actually does bare some responsibility (we all do when we uphold white supremacy in any way, other wise speaking about equality is just lip service) but its not actually about her as a person or defending her individually – its about the system itself that should be dismantled.

    • Christina says:

      Yes! And the veiled prophets were organized in response to a strike of Black and impoverished white laborers as a way to exert dominance and control.

      It needs to be abolished.

    • escondista says:

      To add to that, this wasn’t the zeitgeist when she was 19. I’m pretty sure we will all be called environmental racists in 20 years for the way we are living considering who climate change will affect the most. We just aren’t famous so a photo of us using a straw in 2015 won’t matter. Talking about this stuff is important – i am not saying that we don’t need to address Ellie’s participation but the system is the problem, not a 19 year old girl who lives in it.

    • Blairski says:

      This is exactly right – we should be talking about why these institutions still exist and how they perpetuate racism. Thank you!

    • Carmen-JamRock says:

      I blame the black participants/their families for participating, thereby giving that organization the surface cleaning it needed to paper over its racist past and allow it to survive this long. I cringe when I think of black folks who willingly allow themselves to be used to sanitize racism and other forms of injustice/discrimination in general.

      And I’m sure that Ellie and her family must hv privately said, what the h*ll are folks complaining abt? Black women vied to become queen of love and beauty both before and after my time.

      But what’s new. Rmbr the brown paper bag test? Yeah its a cousin to the KKK.

  3. Nicole says:

    Why is this issue Ellie Kemper’s to fix? Why is she the target?

    As to “how long” it took her to apologize – she notes that she was initially defensive about the criticism. So she did what we have begged every celebrity in this kind of situation to do: she reflected, thought about it, realized the issue, and has now apologized.

    I am certainly not one of those people who think that “cancel culture” is too far gone, but I also think it’s unfair of us to have criticism about each and every apology that comes out. Most people were ignorant assholes when they were young, about any number of things. Should they have to wear that for the rest of their lives? Do people not grow?

    • Merricat says:

      +1

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      She can’t fix the whole issue, but at this point her voice has a spotlight. People will listen. Publications will print her words. That’s a duty imo. To speak not just to save your own reputation, but to not hide or sugarcoat the real issue.

      • Merricat says:

        I feel like she tried to apologize as best she could, and that her apology was better than most. I don’t know. I don’t have anything invested in her emotionally, but I do think when people are sincerely trying to be better, it’s a mistake not to allow them.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Still doesn’t make it right, I’m tired of people finding every excuse in the book not to call a white woman anything negative. It’s fully possible to be an ignorant racist. Doesn’t change the impact on Black people.

      With that said, there are many many people who’ve been involved with this over the years and this is not just on one person. It’s really unfortunate that journalists aren’t exposing her parents and the other rich bigwigs about their roles. People who can’t use the convenient excuse of being a teenager.

      • MF1 says:

        But what else could she do to make it right other than reflect and offer a thoughtful apology? She essentially admitted she was an ignorant racist when she was young. She can’t actually *do* anything to change the impact of her participation in the ball on Black people.

      • Elizabeth says:

        What else could a billionaire family do? … What else could a successful actress do? It’s already harder for Black people in Hollywood — so is she going to use her currency and power to help?

        Just for one example: They could support scholarships; they could commit to helping the Black community, they could examine their hiring and promotion practices, commit to diversity.

        And once again this should definitely not be all on one woman. I don’t have anger or hatred for her, but she hasn’t been 19 for a long time, it would be very instructive to hear how / if / why her thinking evolved.

    • STRIPE says:

      +1

    • Sunny says:

      The fragility!!!

      Ellie and her family are billionaires; they are a bankers who profited off of redlining and benefited from the white institutional power structure.

      Ellie didn’t realize her participation with the Veiled Prophet was problematic and she was schooled since she failed to discern that for herself.

      I think she will be ok.

    • Mandy P says:

      +1

    • Maria says:

      It’s her issue to fix because it’s the issue of all white people to fix and address.
      Growing is a debatable term here given it took her so long to issue this statement.

    • Jenn says:

      I don’t think anyone is mad at *her* specifically? I think it’s certainly surprising that she comes from an affluent family and participated in a classist event with a covertly-racist history, but I think it’s more the event itself, and its history, that shocked people. (I think people were also surprised that she comes from an influential family? At least I was.)

      I do agree that this is just one illustration of the invisible power structures that are still very much in place, and that we should own our responsibility to repairing deep damage we’ve participated in. Her apology is fine — it’s a good summary of the issue? — but it would’ve been cool if she’d wanted to back it up with some action maybe.

  4. NTheMiddle says:

    Here’s the thing.. ignorance IS an excuse (at that age especially). Upbringing, religion, race, and region of the country all play a factor. If it’s all a child/teen knows and no one tells them differently, how can we rage on her? I’m not going to wag my finger at a 40 year old for being ignorant at the age of 19. I was a naive, uneducated girl at that age and certainly have changed immensely since.

    • STRIPE says:

      +1 especially since she went from being a very wealthy white person in Missouri to Princeton University. She went from wealthy white bubble to wealthy white bubble, so no by 19 she wasn’t totally questioning her entire upbringing yet. I just have a hard time being up in arms about that.

    • Joy says:

      I grew up in the poor version of this bubble. I went away to college at 18 and honestly I was like Ellie Mae Clampett until I was in my 20′s. She and I are close in age and I assure you it was not as easy then as it is now to really learn this information. Also, at 19, it’s hard to take a stand against the people who fund your life. It took me years of learning and growing and exposure to others to fully grasp how horribly I had grown up. I never felt the same way the people around me did, and I never acted out in any ways that were overtly racist, but it took time to realize that essentially you have to be deprogrammed out of these ways. I literally never went to school with a person of color until college. There was no internet. A cult is really the only thing I can compare it to.

    • Maria says:

      If it took trending on Twitter for her to say something more than 20 years later, there’s a problem.

  5. souperkay says:

    She wrote a whole memoir, during the writing, editing, and publishing phase of that process that she was doing as a fully grown adult, she did not at any point think this debutante ball worth writing about, reflecting on, reframing through her extreme privilege. She just skipped it.

    While this apology is better than most, she’s had chances under her own power to talk about the complications of her participation and she did not. She knew it had been publicized, she knew her picture was taken and used by the organization and the press, but she chose not to address it herself.

    • Lex says:

      One night in her life as a teenager was meant to make an entry into her book? Really?

      Peoole do like to get carried away, sheesh.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Yes, people do get so carried away about racism! It’s just astounding how it impacts every aspect of a person’s life including their finances, credit, and home-owning, not to mention getting into Princeton or succeeding in Hollywood! Gosh! It’s like it’s horrible or something.

      • Sunny says:

        It is not just one night!

        Debutantes in the Veiled Prophet start attending as young as the age of nine.

        They go every year, indoctrinated that they are a a member of the prominent elitist class of StL.

        There are constant rehearsals too.

        You have to apply to let it be known that you want to be a part of the ball. You have to detail your volunteer work, discuss your studies at Princeton, reflect those values that the VP deem pertinent to their organization.

        It is a part of your life in St. Louis!

      • cassandra says:

        @Sunny

        You used the word yourself: indoctrinated. A lot of people here are yelling about a 19 year old who had been heavily influenced by this organization for her entire memorable life.

        Her apology was pretty good and no other issues with her behavior have come out-which they absolutely would have in the past week given the media focus. She appears to have grown.

        I agree with the posters above that the ire should be more focused on the organization, not the person.

      • souperkay says:

        An organization that Ellie protected in her apology by not naming it

        she was given a world class private school education and admission to princeton and yet at 19 years old she did not possess the deductive reasoning that Veiled Prophet was gross?

        She had education and agency, she was an adult when she did this. She knew her picture was taken and published. Yet, she said nothing until the volume of voices became overwhelming.

        If ellie experienced such indoctrination that as an educated adult woman she felt compelled to do this, that indoctrination hasn’t gone anywhere. Her first compulsion, that she mentions in the apology, is to lash about her feeling personally attacked using her white woman tears to get out of it. Racism is not only in the overt slurs and acts of physical violence. It is in the silence of private organizations and private educations where Queens of Love and Beauty can reign undisturbed while their larger, diverse community suffers, smothered without resources.

  6. Ari says:

    I don’t think the uproar was even about Ellie in particular. I mean, she’s never been particularly famous and if you’re familiar with her show, it’s very clear that she leans left. I think this controversy gained so much steam because that photo of 19 year old Ellie was a talking point for how deeply embedded white supremacy is in American culture, to the point that even seemingly innocent traditions are racist. And just because stuff like this is so pervasive doesn’t mean that it’s not hurtful and even frightening to non-white Americans, you know?

    • Merricat says:

      I think you’re right, Ari.

    • tolly says:

      Thank you. We get to talk about this because it is a shockingly bad image, and I’m not overly concerned about Ellie’s feelings or the (completely non-existent) impact on her career. I think she was plenty old enough to understand what was going on 20 years ago, but she is certainly old enough NOW to deal with some valid criticism of an institution that she chose to represent (and she has always been white enough and rich enough that none of it actually affects her).

    • Sunny says:

      I agree!

      Ellie made it about herself.

      You can’t discuss the strong hold that white supremacy has and its connection to institutionalized racism with vague references.

      This is where the photographs, the history, the exclusive membership, the wealth disparity, current practices, have to be part of the discussion and the explanation.

      And a lot of the obscene wealth and the prejudiced mindset of the Veiled Prophet continues to fuel the growth of MAGA politics in Missouri, specifically Josh Hawley.

      I’m sorry Ellie Kemper got her feelings hurt but this isn’t really about her. She needs to get over herself.

  7. Busyann says:

    Eh, I don’t hold it against her. Be upset about it now, but 20 years ago people were not as focused on calling this stuff out as much as they are now. Now, if a 19 year old did this today…. different story.

    • Maria says:

      There were other people from St. Louis in the other post stating this ball and its implications and origins were well-known even back then.
      I think we need to be careful about the blanket statement that people back then weren’t calling this type of thing out because that generally just means *white* people weren’t calling it out, and Black voices were ignored.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Exactly, thank you Maria. Let’s not center only white people’s opinions on racism.

      • Christa says:

        Maybe but the way I see it, the institutional white power back then was pervasive in journalism and elsewhere. Probably no one was thoughtful enough at the time to cover a non white perspective on this. How would a affluent , likely sheltered 19 year old understand that or have access to those opinions? The internet has then was not what it is today.

      • Sunny says:

        Ok, so the Internet was not around so how would she know?

        She attends an all-white exclusive wealthy school and as part of her volunteerism that is mandatory to the VP debutante ball;

        She goes to the poverty-stricken, overwhelmingly black neighborhoods that are food deserts and as part of her benevolence picks up litter and volunteers at a soup kitchen and this Princeton student (whose family just donated $5 million to the StL Art Museum) doesn’t pause and say hey something is off here?

        Ok. I suppose critical-thinking skills are not mandatory to get into Princeton when you are that level of obscene wealth.

      • Maria says:

        I’m sorry but the narrative of “no major journalist was covering it so how would she know?” makes no sense.
        This information is out there if you want to find it. It has been since before 1999. If she didn’t want to find it then, it is incumbent on her to speak about this now far earlier than she chose to do.

  8. sunny says:

    I think it is interesting who we extend grace to. Children of colour are almost never treated as children- they are seen as adult and sadly treated so. White people we constantly make excuses for their behaviour as ignorance and youth. It is fully wild. This was a 19 year old Ivey league student- she probably had some inkling the the event she was participating in was not all roses. That being said, family pressures can influence you and probably did influence her choices.

    What I don’t get, is how she never acknowledged any of this as an adult who now presumably now knows better that is wild to me. I mean the luxury of that choice… I talk pretty openly about where I was more ignorant in the past and my journey of learning. I just don’t get the people who do crap like this and think it was a part of a long forgotten youth without understanding how those actions contribute to a system that suppresses and exploits other.

    Nice apologies though.

  9. Maria says:

    I mean…this apology is definitely better than a lot.

    But the fact that it took this long and she’s admitting at first she thought it was just “haters” essentially…😒

    • Amelia says:

      I didn’t read it as her just thinking it was haters—more that she was acknowledging she got reflexively defensive at first (which is normal human nature), but then when she dropped the defensiveness, realized they were right and she was wrong.

      • Maria says:

        Reflexive defenseness in the first hour or so makes sense.
        Not for a whole week, before issuing a statement.

  10. Sunny says:

    It would have been better if she acknowledged the Veiled Prophet by name, instead of debutante ball. Call it out—Veiled Prophet!

    Also, this organization is for select super wealthy white families only with a few token very wealthy families of color.

    It’s always been by invitation only. You have to know someone to be allowed in.

    At the very least, Ellie was proud to be a part of this insider club because she benefited greatly from it.

    • WinnieXi says:

      How did she benefit from it? I don’t see how that one evening benefited her. If you mean her parents wealth benefited from being in the club or whatever then yes for sure.

      • Sunny says:

        She benefited by gaining acceptance into the selective private high school and into Princeton.

        She schmoozed with the board members of the VP organization and that privilege got her even more advantage.

        She was able to move to NYC and didn’t have to work bc of her family’s money.

        Her family money only grows with her parents socializing and doing favors and getting favors from other wealthy and powerful members of the Veiled Prophet organization—many of whom have connections with the NYC theatre, art and entertainment world.

  11. Erika says:

    I don’t have anything particularly groundbreaking to add, but I wanted to just thank you all for your thoughtful, nuanced viewpoints. For the past few years, especially during the past four to five years, I’ve been really working to examine my own biases and things I’m ignorant about due to my own privileges and learn, grow, and evolve. I’m sure I still have a long way to go, but this site and all of your wonderful comments on this topic and others like it have been instrumental in my growth. So thank you!

    • Aimee says:

      I agree Erika. I have spent the past few years examining my biases and part of that is reading comments like these from so many people and perspectives. I enjoy this site for that main reason!

  12. CHIMES@MIDNIGHT says:

    I’ve been struggling with whether or not to say this, but I’m going to go ahead and say it.

    If a 19 year old woman dates a 40-something year old guy, she is a VICTIM and he is PREDATORY because of the gross imbalance of power and the greater life experience he has. She will be referred to as a teenager. We are expected to support her leaving the relationship and growing as a person.

    But if that same 19 year old woman is influenced by her 40-something year old parents, extended family, and upbringing to participate in something questionable, she is racist trash, completely complicit and a liar/fraud if she claims ignorance or youth as factors in her behavior, even if it was 20 years ago.

    That don’t track.

    • Cindy says:

      You have a point here.
      I believe her and her apology seems genuine.

    • Maria says:

      Actually, it does track.
      The power dynamics of older men are always more influential than those of a teen girl.

      But the power dynamics of an extremely wealthy and connected white female teenager old enough to vote are above the social influence, power, and perceived legitimacy of Black people, particularly in these very powerful wealthy invite-only balls. And her place as a white celebrity means she should have said something before this.
      People from St. Louis have chimed in about this on the other post. This ball is well-known, she did not attend it in some vacuum, and she flew back from Princeton to do so.

      • AlpineWitch says:

        Apart from the fact I had never heard of her before this so unsure if she’s a celebrity, but I disagree with the certainty she had a choice. How do we know she had? I’d say her university expenses and tuition fees were paid by her parents, we actually don’t know if she literally had a choice. At 19 I hadn’t a choice either to do whatever I liked because I had no job and until recently I could not disagree with my husband’s choices as I literally depended on him for survival.

      • Maria says:

        Well, since she hasn’t said anyone forced her to or acknowledged that kind of pressure or anything in the statement that she issued to specifically clarify her involvement in this, I’d say she did have a choice, and still has one now, cuddling up to her family’s money and white influence, even given the fame and wealth she’s attained on her own, since it took her a week to say a single word. She literally said herself she could have done the research, implying she could have thereby refused to go. But her statement gave an emphasis on how hurt her feelings were by everyone talking about it. Says a lot to me. But that’s me.

  13. Mmmmm... says:

    St. Louisan here! At the risk of sounding ignorant (which, honestly I was) I also did not know about the history of this organization until I was an adult several years out of college. And this is notable because for most of my life our 4th of July celebration (concert/vendors/rides etc.) was called “The VP Fair.” I didn’t even know what VP meant until I finally heard about its disgusting roots. I never thought about it, which I now realize is part of the problem, but I think we need to afford people some grace so long as they are committed to doing the work now, which it seems Ellie is.

  14. Mina_Esq says:

    I’d accept her apology because an ally with a past is better than no ally at all. I wouldn’t alienate her. Every old money family in the US has at some point benefited from systemic racism and classism. But if we target and cancel every member of those families that want to be allies, then we are effectively helping perpetuate the system. Why would she respond to humiliation if she has all that money? She still has the privilege that affords her the choice to leave public life. Yes, i understand that POC are not afforded the same excuses, but that’s because they lack privilege. Ellie still has privilege. She is still a rich white woman, but she is also wanting to not be a trash person like her predecessors. Alienating her is not going to strip her of her wealth and privilege. Just my two cents.

  15. Sophia says:

    I’d also like to point out that she is an actor. Why do we expect her to have some scholarly, perfect apology. I think her response was pretty good and it probably took a long time because she actually wanted it to be thoughtful. It’s very self-righteous to think that any of us would have known better as teenagers in the 90s.

  16. Rebecca Siegel says:

    I think it’s definitely possible that she was ignorant of the origins of that debutante society. When I was in high school, a scholarship kid surrounded by rich kids, I was one of two girls in my class not asked to be a debutante. I didn’t want to be a debutante because I thought it was insulting and chauvinistic. Yet I never once questioned at that time if it was racist. I still don’t know to be honest because I really don’t know much about these types of societies and I grew up in AZ. Do I think she took too long to respond. I agree with one poster who said she should have apologized immediately and promise to address it more in depth later. But she was probably being advised by all sorts of people. I don’t know her, but I get a very sincere vibe from her. I think she truly regrets her past transgression and not just because it could damage her career.

  17. Likeyoucare says:

    Maybe someone got a hold of her pictures doing something that really racist than the pagent.
    Shrug.

  18. Lurkers says:

    Nah- if you stood before somebody in a KKK robe to be named their “Queen”, you’re done. She was old enough and privileged enough to know better.

    Cancel her.

  19. Lurkers says:

    I spent years working in PR.

    There’s a reason that apology was delayed for so long, right?

    Racism scandals, let alone supporting the KKK, is a major PR crisis and her team would have been all-hands-on-deck the moment she started trending on Twitter. Normally, they’d issue a statement as soon as possible (less than 24hrs, one business day at the most).

    they waited a whole week.

    I guarantee that gap was because there’s more racist stuff in her past and they were frantically doing a clean-up job (e.g., paying people off, collecting + destroying photos/videos/evidence, and waiting to see if anybody else got wind of it).

  20. Maria says:

    It can be untangled by white people realizing that it is their responsibility to resolve it.