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Conversations about race on the hit TV show “Survivor” are becoming more frequent, and this season proves to be no exception. In the reality show’s latest race-based controversy, black castaways Drea Wheeler and Maryanne Oketch became emotional after seeing that the first two contestants voted onto the Season 42 jury, Chanelle Howell and Rocksroy Bailey, were also black.
“I was so proud because we have four black contestants in Survivor,” Drea said during tribal council after Probst prompted her to explain her reaction. “And then it always happens where at one point the black contestants get booted out — Boom! Boom! Boom! — and then that’s exactly what this is right now. So yeah, I’m pissed.”
When Probst asked if she thought the votes that put Chanelle and Rocksroy out of the game were “race-related,” Drea invoked language reminiscent of the ideology expressed by critical race theorists such as Robin DiAngelo and Henry Rogers (a.k.a. Ibram X. Kendi).
“Subconsciously, a little bit of that, unfortunately,” she said. “I see now I have to play the game a little harder. I can tell you right now, I’m playing my idol tonight so that I can stay in this game. I’m not gonna let that happen to another one of us. Point blank. It’s a reset for me. This was a game-changer.”
Coming into the tribal council, Maryanne was one of the four “blue” tribe members who had agreed with castaway Jonathan Young’s plan to vote Drea off the show. Jonathan made it clear to his allies during conversations earlier that he was concerned about keeping Drea in the game because she had an immunity idol, which, if played, made her safe from being voted off the island.
After hearing Drea’s thoughts, however, Maryanne changed course.
“I can’t write Drea’s name down [now],” Maryanne said. “I literally cannot. I walked into tribal, I saw two black people. I cannot write her name down. I’m so sorry.”
Maryanne went on to say that “if I write Drea’s name right now, that means that I’m a part of a perpetuating problem.”
It’s similar to the rhetoric castaway and “all-black alliance” member Liana Wallace used to describe her feelings about voting off another black player last season. At the time, Liana claimed that black “has this currency that can kill you” and playing “Survivor” “is about uplifting other black people and giving black people something to root for, [aside from] everything else that’s out there that’s killing us.”
The difference between last season’s race moment and this season’s moment is that Drea and Maryanne’s comments got pushback from a tribemate in the moment. When Jonathan heard Drea and Maryanne say the three white people in her tribe might vote her off because a small part of their brains biased them against her skin color, he was visibly upset.
“I don’t feel this is right, because y’all are coming at this like we’re racists,” he said.
The rest of the tribe seemed taken aback by Jonathan’s blunt reply, but he doubled down. When Maryanne also brought up “subconscious bias,” he pointed out “that’s saying I’m subconsciously racist.” Both Maryanne and Drea vehemently denied believing their white teammates were racists.
Drea and Maryanne may not have explicitly called Jonathan, Lindsey, and Tori racists, but the underlying message is the same. Both Drea and Maryanne automatically believed that because their tribe members were white, they harbored deep and possibly even unknown biases towards black people even though they had no evidence of this.
The idea that everyone has implicit bias is widespread and often spoon-fed to woke corporations, schools, and universities but it’s a lie backed up by weak studies and propped up by people with political agendas. According to that ideology, you’re a racist unless you’ve taken drastic steps to become an anti-racist because everything must be viewed through a race-based lens.
You must “educate yourself” by paying for “anti-racist” grifters or purchasing their books. And even after all of that, you might still be called a racist simply because you were born a certain way. It’s a scam ideology that indicts people for their skin color. That’s why parents and Republican legislators all over the nation have rejected its presence in classrooms.
Simply put: Jonathan was right to reject the premise that he has a “subconscious bias” against black people that pushed him to vote out Drea, because it’s a lie. “Survivor” may be an accelerated “social experiment,” but no one has the standing to accuse other strangers he met less than a month ago of being something that gets people fired, censored, and canceled in the real world simply because they are white.
Jonathan’s motivations to target Drea were clear from the beginning, and they had nothing to do with her skin color.
Similarly, his fellow castaways also had legitimate reasons to vote out Rocksroy, who was charged by his tribemates as bossy, inconsiderate, and hard to negotiate with, and Chanelle, who caught heat for being repeatedly untrustworthy. Rocksroy and Chanelle were voted off the island fair and square, not because one of the most racially, culturally, and religiously diverse casts in “Survivor” history was too privileged or too reliant on mental messages from some biased parts of their brains to decide who to get rid of.
In the end, both Drea and Maryanne chose to play their idols, which prevented them from receiving any game-ending votes. They claimed they didn’t want their “stand” to be made into a “race thing,” but it’s a little too late for that.
Jordan Boyd is a staff writer at The Federalist and co-producer of The Federalist Radio Hour. Her work has also been featured in The Daily Wire and Fox News. Jordan graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism. Follow her on Twitter @jordanboydtx.