Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X

Racial Bias in Survivor

Sarah Freeman writes special feature blogs, including ones that tackle the more controversial sociological topics and how they impact players on a show like Survivor which is a subset of greater society.

Past blogs on similar topics include:

The Young Lasses of Kaoh Rong, The Alpha Males, the Women of Color, and the Beauty: Gender Dynamics of Kaoh RongStop Thinking About Women’s AlliancesFemale Voices Discuss the Tone of Worlds Apart

Racial Bias in Survivor

When Millennials vs. Gen X kicked off with the back-to-back boots of two Asian contestants, debates of racism broke out in the fandom. In a show as tightly edited as Survivor, there are never easy answers, and even in its 33rd season, the sample sizes are too small to draw definitive conclusions, but Jeff Pitman produced a chart that shows this issue is only getting worse.

If you’re more results oriented, take a look at the five most recent seasons, including Millennials vs. Gen X. We have had 94 players (counting return appearances as a second player): 25 people of color and 69 white. Of the 15 players eliminated in the first three tribal council, 9 have been people of color and 6 have been white. For these modern seasons, people of color account for 27% of all players, but 60% of the first three boots.

Compare that to a demographic which we would expect to be at risk in those early votes when players are so conscious of challenges: people aged forty or over. They make up 24% of players over the past five seasons… but only 13% (two people!) of the first three boots. It’s the same for the votes cast at a tribe’s first tribal council (Millennials excluded): only 13% are against players aged forty or over.

According to these numbers, in modern Survivor, race is four times greater a risk factor than age at the start of the game.

Racism is rarely a storyline for these votes. More often it comes down to a poor challenge performance or a failure to fit in with the tribe during that crucial first impression stage. However, when the pattern is not only repeating but getting more pronounced, we have to wonder if these extenuating circumstances are simply a way to rationalize a less visible prejudice.

That said, I do not believe this is direct racism. Even if a player were deliberately trying to vote out people of color, that would be a hard pill for their tribemates to swallow. It’s one thing to say you’d do anything for a million dollars; it’s quite another to put yourself on national television siding with an overt racist.

Rather, I believe this is due to implicit stereotype, a subconscious cultural bias to which we are all susceptible, including members of the race in question. Unlike an explicit stereotype, which we consciously believe, we are unaware of what implicit stereotypes we hold—and they may be in direct opposition to the principles we consciously endorse.

When you hit the beach on Survivor, with all the paranoia of needing to be ‘in’, you go for people who look like you, because they are the most likely to share your experiences, the most likely to relate to you. First impressions don’t always last, but they are key in those early votes.

This season, each white man had four others from that demographic on their tribe, plus the added bonus of assumed challenge strength. The previous two times there were five white men on one tribe (both Blood vs. Water seasons), they formed an alliance for the first couple of votes. Both times, their first target happened to be a woman of color, somebody who didn’t look like their wife, sister, mother, daughter….

Compare that to the African American women this season. They have nobody else of their race on their starting tribe, and they are assumed to be weaker in challenges by virtue of their gender. Not only do they have to find ways to relate to their tribemates, but the onus will likely be on them to do so. Shirin Oskooi told me that both seasons she played, she made a deliberate effort to ask the other players about their lives and backgrounds, but they rarely reciprocated. By contrast, Spencer—an athletic white man—always found that his tribemates asked him about his life outside the game.

This is not to say that race is a factor every time a person of color gets voted off. We certainly can’t prove any implicit stereotypes with the information we have. But in light of current trends, it is absolutely worth exploring the early dynamics of Millennials vs. Gen X including how racial bias might have come into play.

Before reading on, please bear in mind every theory below is just a theory. Any of them could easily be wrong, some of them are bound to be, and none of them will apply to each and every member of a tribe.


Rachel – Failing to be the Model Minority

Against typical policy, for this season, the players were cast to the theme rather than the theme being applied post-casting. This meant that CBS used their own definitions for the generations. Against its original stereotype, Gen X was cast from hard workers who had very conventional ideals of success: for the most part, steady jobs and nuclear families.

When the six-strong majority was formed, what stood out to me was that it included all five players who were married with children—Bret was the only single person in it, although David was at least a satellite originally. Rachel told Rob that she, Ken, and Cece were the ones on the outs: the two single parents; the two free-spirited models. Of these, Rachel ended up going home.

Unusually, we were presented with a parallel journey between Rachel and David in the first episode. On day one, both of them attempted to build a relationship with the alpha males on the tribe by assisting them with the shelter. David gravitated towards Bret and Chris, who were closest to his age. Rachel teamed up with Paul, whose long hair marked him as the alpha with the most alternative lifestyle.

Neither met with great success. While David at least had the presence of mind to make an alliance with Bret and Chris, they were taken aback by his paranoia and fear of loud noises. Rachel found that Paul wanted her to use her own judgment while she wanted specifics to avoid making an error: “How far is ‘not too far’?” When he seemed irritated at having to talk her through it, she tried to lighten the mood by playfully teasing him. It didn’t work.

In his interview with Rob, Paul said this was an example of Rachel pointing the finger at people and described her as trying to win the game on the first day. It sounds like he patched things up with her at Ponderosa, but in the game he clearly disliked her intensely. The following episode, he targets Cece purely because she had been aligned with Rachel “which is the kiss of death.”

Rachel apparently also had a run in with Sunday, which explains why Sunday described her as over-eager, confrontational and bringing negativity to the group. The first one fits in with what we saw, but not so much the latter two. If anything, Rachel was terrifyingly positive. Did the edit leave out a more obvious example of Rachel’s social mistakes or is this down to subjective taste?

Compare Sunday’s confessional to Chris’ more tolerant reaction to David’s idiosyncrasies, which in episode seemed far more of a red flag than Rachel’s awkwardness: “He’s a guy that’s scared, but he’s also funny at times, charming at times.” These two confessionals were cherry-picked to tell the editors’ story, but one of the people in question went home and the other got included in the majority vote.

There is probably an intersection with gender here as we are socially conditioned to accept a more diverse range of behaviors or mannerisms from men. (Ever notice how the term ‘vocal fry’ only appears in the comments on podcasts where Rob has a female guest?) I also wonder if Rachel suffered from the model minority myth, where Asians are held up as an example of how a racial minority can be as successful as Caucasians, or even have an advantage over them. (The statistics for this are deceptive.)

As can be seen from her Twitter bio, Rachel is actually mixed race and seems to identify more with her Pacific Island than her East Asian heritage, but the distinction between the two is not readily understood by the average American. Rachel’s new age lifestyle is in contrast with the hardworking, uncomplaining preconception her tribemates might have, especially when there is another Asian who conforms more closely to the stereotype in Lucy. (More on Lucy later.) Like the majority, Lucy has a spouse, children and longstanding professional success; thus Rachel has no excuse for not meeting their approved criteria.

Rachel also appears to be held to a more exacting standard in the challenge, where she and David were on the puzzle. As Rachel tells it, David volunteered for the puzzle first, and when nobody else stepped up, she said she would do it. Both ended up swapping out. Afterwards, both Bret and Jessica talked about how Rachel performed poorly in the challenge with no mention (that we saw) of David—only Chris talked about David’s challenge performance. For everybody else, the case against him seemed to rest solely on the possibility that he might have an idol.

True, Rachel had the struggle with the club working against her as well, but there still seems to be a double standard here, especially since David wasn’t even the alternative for the split vote. Was the challenge simply an excuse to confirm an easy vote against somebody who wasn’t fitting in?

I doubt anybody actually thought: “I don’t like Rachel because she’s not good enough at being Asian.” Though that’s certainly possible. RHAP’s Mark Celera told me: “When I get like C+’s, I’ve had people blatantly tell me, ‘What kind of Asian are you?’ Not friends either. People I didn’t know.” Stereotypes like the model minority do create explicit prejudices.

But they can also create implicit ones. It is possible to have a ‘gut reaction’ against somebody without realizing that it’s because they aren’t living up to our instinctive ideals for people who look like them. Nor do I wish to devalue Rachel’s approach to life—there is more to success than family, and the career ladder doesn’t have to be linear. She didn’t fit in with Gen X; perhaps on the Millennial tribe, she would have been embraced.


Mari – A Clash of Biases

Production cast Gen X to be conventional, but they went the opposite route with the Millennials, casting a tribe full of misfits and oddballs. By my count, eight out of ten Millennials can lay claim to some form of minority, and that means there were probably a whole host of implicit stereotypes at play.

Even so, a group of ‘cool kids’, of ‘pretty people’ (or at least fair-skinned and athletic—the type of young person we expect Survivor to cast), gravitated into what the others perceived as a clique. Within that alliance Figgy and Taylor developed a showmance and tried to invent themselves as the power couple of the game.

Unfortunately for Figgy, this backfired on her as she quickly became the least popular person on the tribe. However, she did have three friends, and while they were outnumbered by the ‘Freaks and Geeks’, Michelle managed to turn the vote around onto one of her best liked tribemates: Mari.

This was an ideal move for Michelle as although she and the YouTuber were close to some of the same players (e.g. Will and Hannah), they had no personal relationship with each other—and it seems that at least part of this was due to Mari herself. Mari explained to Rob that all her old high school insecurities came back to her in Survivor so that although she got on all right with Taylor and Jay, she found herself unable to connect with the pretty girls, Figgy and Michelle. (This is another implicit bias, if one many of us might be more sympathetic to.)

We do not know enough about Mari to judge if her race was one of those high school insecurities. But she serves as a reminder that sometimes it’s the individual player who has to overcome their own sense of isolation in order to form social bonds. I already said that white players might not think to approach a non-white tribemate; that tribemate might first have to leap a hurdle of insecurity before they approach others.

Remember David? He’s by far the most socially insecure person out there, which is why we have to commend him for pursuing alliances even in the face of rejection. His day one trust in Chris and Bret didn’t pan out, but he finally struck lucky with Ken—and then pledged himself to Taylor for good measure. What all four of those people have in common is that they are white men like David himself. This isn’t to negate the things David has done right in the game, but it’s another way in which he was advantaged by his race. David might be out of his comfort zone, but at least he had the luxury of staying within his demographic. Mari did not.

As I said, Mari appears to have been one of the more popular people on the tribe, and it’s not as if Michelle showed any animosity towards her, so it’s hard to quibble with her social game. It was simply unfortunate that one of the two people Mari gave up on turned out to be the most driven player of that particular vote.

The lack of personal connection was certainly a factor in Michelle’s choice of Mari as a target (she stated that the vote was “about keeping people who I know will stick with me moving forward,”) but both in confessional and in conversation with Will, her rationale for targeting Mari in particular was that she was a strategic threat.

While this made sense to us in the context of the show, we have since learned that Mari was actually avoiding strategy out there. At a viewing party, Hannah told Peih Gee that Mari never formalized the Freaks and Geeks alliance, which was why Hannah ultimately chose to go with Michelle.

If we’re looking at strategic play, it’s Zeke whom we see orchestrating the vote against Figgy—and Zeke also lacked a personal bond with Michelle. So why did Michelle perceive Mari as the bigger threat?

Honestly, even if Mari didn’t talk a lot to Michelle, Michelle could have heard her say enough to realize she is indeed an intelligent woman, as so many of us did pre-season. However, it’s also possible that she was influenced by the Smart Asian stereotype. (As might we be. After all, when Peih Gee, another Asian gamer, returned in Cambodia, a lot of us predicted she would go far; instead Tasha turned the third vote against her… seeing her as a strategic threat.)

Ironically, Michelle knows a thing or two about stereotypes, observing that people don’t see her as smart, calculating, or analytical, but as more of a free spirit. This certainly fits in with all of our pre-game assessments. Not everybody had Mari as their winner pick, but nobody predicted that the Asian gamer would be out-strategized by the dragon-loving Christian.

Notably, although Will fell in with Michelle’s plan, he did not subscribe to her theory at all. Rather, he felt that Figgy was the strategic threat while Mari represented a threat because she wouldn’t strategize. While he thought Mari might be trying to downplay any target placed on her for being a gamer, his biggest concern was that he wouldn’t be able to work with her when he needed her. Perhaps he’s free from that particular bias or perhaps he had seen enough of Mari to overrule it.

Everybody voted for Mari for different reasons, and while it’s possible her race influenced some of those votes, the Smart Asian stereotype is unlikely to have factored into all of them. Yet it might well have been what started the motion against her rather than Zeke or Adam.


Michaela – Implicit vs. Explicit

There are enough superfans among the Millennials that they are probably aware of Reality TV’s history in casting black women for conflict. The Angry Black Woman is one of the better known racial stereotypes—and to Survivor’s credit, they seem to have made a determined effort to move away from that in recent seasons. Just look at Michaela, who is as down to earth and hardworking as any Gen Xer. But Michaela’s on the Millennial tribe, which puts her in conflict with the very philosophy that they were cast for.

For the socially-aware players, their explicit (conscious) attitude might well be to give Michaela the benefit of the doubt, because they know that it would be racist to define her by the stereotype—but their implicit (subconscious) attitude could still be on the alert for any signs of volatility.

This is where confirmation bias becomes a problem for Michaela and her expressive eyebrows. Anything she does that confirms their implicit stereotype will stand out more to them than anything that goes against it.

While she doesn’t seem so nearly well-versed in the reality world as most of the tribe, Michaela’s going to be fully aware of the Angry Black Woman stereotype, because that’s her reality off the island as well. For one of my blogs discussing Kaoh Rong’s Cydney, Resoketswe Manenzhe commented: “As a black woman, I find that I have to suppress emotion all the time so that people don’t perceive me as irrational, angry, aggressive, someone with bad attitude, etc. Whenever I’m in a multi-ethnic/racial/cultural setting, I CANNOT, under any circumstances, show human emotions. I have to be the magical negro in order for people to take me seriously.”

After the so-called ‘catfight’ with Figgy in episode two, Jay called Michaela a cougar, claiming he had to take the machete off her because who knows what she would have done. Figgy (who certainly had grounds to feel irritated) said she was a bitch and crazy.

What actually happened was that Michaela made a flip comment in response to Jay’s jibe about her machete-wielding: “Don’t worry. It wouldn’t be aimed at you.” This got a huge reaction from the rest of her tribe, and she discreetly fell silent until Figgy tried to call her out on it. At that point, Michaela entered the fray with a masterful line in passive aggression.

At one point during the exchange, Figgy demanded: “Why are you being phony then, if you want to keep it real?” This provoked the biggest reaction out of Michaela in the whole scene as she let out a “Woooooooh…” She drew out the vocalization, audibly going from indignant to calm again, before she mildly parroted back: “Why am I being phony?”

Michaela knows her social stock can’t afford a blow up, and I’m pretty sure what we witnessed was her work-around. She described the scene as her way of releasing some energy and having fun. After the third challenge, what she’s proudest of herself for is keeping her mouth shut and not getting frustrated.

Despite her attempts at discretion, Michaela’s dislike of Figgy has become a running joke around camp. This doesn’t necessarily hurt her stock because most of the tribe don’t like Figgy either. Figgy admitted she has been an aggressive player, though she denied Michaela’s accusation of lying. (Said accusation was backed up by Adam and even Michelle.) On top of that, Figgy’s social game has problems, as explained by Hannah. Will declared outright hatred.

As a tribe, the Millennials can appreciate anybody who pisses Figgy off, but at the same time, they’re wary of Michaela. She didn’t get votes at that Tribal Council, but she was supposed to. Figgy originally thought Michaela was the target. Adam, Zeke, and Mari thought she was the decoy boot. Zeke’s comment to Jay about hoping that Figgy’s elimination would bring Michaela back into the group had to be based on something—Michaela is also the one person Zeke didn’t mention when he ran through his tribe, analyzing who was his best hope at getting off the bottom.

Michaela said she was trying to blend in with the majority, and for whatever reason, she’s failed. (Though she has at least succeeded in being in the majority.) At the time that she thought she was voting out Figgy, Michaela said she knew whom she trusted and wanted to go to the end with. It’s not clear who that is—judging by the vote flip, they may be some combination of Will, Jay or Michelle—but the more important question is, does anybody feel that way about her?


Cece – When the statistics are against you.

While it wasn’t clear why Cece was chosen as the alternative for the split vote at the first tribal council, if we stick with my theory on Gen X dynamics, it had a lot to do with her status as a single mother. Single mothers aren’t typically disadvantaged in Survivor (see Kelly Wiglesworth and Kimmi Kappenberg), but then again, a typical Survivor tribe can’t usually create a majority out of married parents.

This might stem from something as simple as the married players bonding over concerns of how the spouse is managing without them, but there is a social stigma attached to single mothers: that they shouldn’t have got themselves into that situation, that they aren’t doing what’s best for their children, and that they’re living off other people’s money.

(For the record, single fathers are stigmatized too, although it’s a different set of stereotypes. This has quite possibly impacted Ken’s game, but we’ll save that for another blog.)

Where this intersects with race is that African American households have the highest percentage of single parents in the US. There has been a lot of political discourse about this statistic, so without getting bogged down in details, let’s acknowledge that the numbers need to be broken down further to understand the different factors behind that and the varying impacts it has on the households in question.

I also want to note that not only has Cece been employed since she was fourteen, but she had the wherewithal to move her family across the country—all for the sake of her daughter’s dancing. African American households tend to be more matriarchal than those with European heritage, and in her bio, Cece talked about the strength she has drawn from the single women in her family. Cece couldn’t beat the statistic, but she knows how to deal with it and her household appears to be a loving and thriving one.

Still, my concern for Cece pre-season was that the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality of so many on her tribe might not be sympathetic to a single parent struggling to make ends meet. Right now, there is little evidence to the contrary.

While Cece might have been judged, implicitly or explicitly, more for her marital status than for her race—I imagine Val Collins would have loved to have been on a tribe where the majority favored married parents—that doesn’t mean this isn’t a racial issue. Statistically, this tribal dynamic will always be more likely to have an African American in the minority than in the majority.

Single motherhood can’t entirely define Cece’s game. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen enough to assess what is going on with Cece. She fell into the minority and she stayed there. Paul said it was because she aligned with Rachel, Sunday described her as an easy vote, and Chris clarified that it didn’t suck they had to vote her out. Certainly, from Chris in particular but maybe Paul as well, there was a sense of animosity behind that, yet we never saw why.

She’s not had visible social mistakes. Beyond her friendship with Rachel, she and Lucy were reaching out to David with sympathy on day one. She wasn’t shy with the Millennials either. Will adored her, describing her as hilarious, so it’s not as if she lacks charm.

Nor is it solely down to challenge ability. Contrary to what Sunday and Chris were saying in episode, Cece contributed to the tribe’s one immunity win: she was their first ring tosser, scoring two points in less time than it took Jay to get one. How contestants perceive challenge ability is often influenced by their game wishes: Ken, David, and Lucy all mentioned Paul struggling in the third immunity challenge. Bret gave him a pass.

Finally, there’s no obvious strategic fault. She has been strategizing with Ken in the minority and Lucy from the majority. She took the summit’s opportunity to show the Millennials that she would be with them in the event of a swap. All evidence shows that Cece was actively searching for a way out of the minority long before Paul’s slip of the tongue—and she probably deserves some credit for setting up the structure for the other women to flip.

So in absence of any obvious reason for Cece to spend her first ten days as a voting target, we do come back to implicit biases. Maybe it was because she’s a single mother. Maybe it was because she doesn’t look like anybody whom her tribemates are close to back home. Maybe it was some other bias altogether. What we do know is that Cece has been trying to play this game for fifteen years, and this episode she was visibly frustrated at being stuck on the outs.

She never gave up though, and her patience was rewarded when she got to be on the right end of a blindside. She even has options now. The alliance she wanted with Ken, David, and Lucy is suddenly a reality, while Sunday wants to bring Cece along with her, Jessica, and Lucy in a ‘Moms’ alliance.

Cece finally has the chance to test her game mettle. Can she beat another statistic, that most African American women on Survivor get eliminated in the first five votes?


Lucy – The Record Breaker

Despite all the problems faced by people of color this season, we have one success story: Lucy. She might be best known for the fact she has yet to get a single confessional, but after just three episodes, Lucy has become the most successful East Asian woman on Survivor since Brenda in Caramoan. However far she lasts in the game, she will now be the oldest Asian woman to do so: the only two older than her are Fiji’s Sylvia and Worlds Apart’s Nina, both of whom were the third boot of their seasons.

It’s a strange set of statistics, particularly when you realize that up until recently, most Asian American women did well on Survivor. Up through Caramoan, out of fourteen starts, nine made the merge, and the lowest placement was Sylvia. Since Caramoan, out of nine starts, only two reached the merge; everybody else (including all five East Asian women) went out in the first three votes.

Even with such a small sample size, this shift is surprising. Of course, the game has taken a notably more aggressive turn in the past few seasons, particularly since Tony won Cagayan, so it’s possible this has been influenced by a drive to take out game threats increasingly early. As we said before, Asians are stereotyped as smart. Leading on from that is the “Asians, particularly women, are sneaky” stereotype.

So how did Lucy succeed where her predecessors failed? Firstly, she got lucky in the tribe distribution. Regardless of race, older women and/or mothers usually struggle to fit in with their tribe. Lucy had three other mothers to bond with and a majority alliance that favored married players.

From there, she took an under the radar approach. She told Josh Wigler pre-game: “In the beginning of any type of atmosphere I’m in, I’m pretty quiet and I just like to sit back and observe.” To Gordon Holmes she remarked: “I kind of like the way Cydney (Gillon) has been playing this season. She’s been quiet, low-key, but she’s getting respect from people. I think soon she’ll be able to play more of her cards.” (This season’s cast were sequestered halfway through Kaoh Rong.)

She probably keyed into Cydney as a fellow body-builder, but that comment proved astonishingly prescient. While we probably shouldn’t expect Lucy to pull anything quite so dramatic as Cydney’s flip, Lucy also describes herself as “controlling” and notes that when she wants something, she goes after it.

The key here is that she can be quiet. Mari tried to play down her target by making friends but not strategizing; it didn’t work. Lucy (whether deliberately or instinctively) appears to have played into the model minority stereotype: hardworking but deferential, content to be a cog in the machine. Paul explained to Josh Wigler that she even took on the cooking, though he also noted to Rob that of the alliance, Lucy was the one he felt the least sure of.

It sounds like he was right to be wary, since Lucy revealed that she wanted Paul to be the first boot. Lucy might have played along with the alliance, but she’s always had her own agenda.

Apparently, most of that agenda has revolved around protecting herself. She told Cece that she would vote with her group to get Paul out, but she left it up to them to find that all important fifth vote. Ken didn’t mention Lucy at all when he was talking to Jessica. Did he not know that Lucy would be with them? Or was he under instructions not to mention her name.

At any rate, when Jessica suggested flipping to Sunday and Lucy, it was Lucy who brought up Paul as a target, hastily adding an “if you feel good about it,” condition. She was also the one to assure Sunday that David would join them on the vote. So far as we can tell, Lucy maintained strategic relations with both the majority and the minority, and while she waited for the right circumstance to turn the tide, two voting blocs finally came together to take out her desired target—and she was in the lynchpin position.

If she, Jessica, and Sunday decide they’d rather go back to Chris and Bret and resume their old alliance as ‘five strong’ with the women in control, Lucy is safe. If they decide to go with Sunday’s plan of a Mom alliance, Lucy wields a lot of power, since not only is she close to Cece and presumably the other women as well, but she already has some kind of working relationship with Ken and David. That’s five people who should, in theory, have her back; in the event of a swap, odds are good she will end up on a tribe with some of her allies.

As it stands, nobody on Gen X is in a better position than Lucy, which perhaps explains why she’s supposedly coming out of her shell next episode. So it is that we can applaud Lucy for “getting it right” and avoiding the initial pitfalls of being a woman of color. But not without due note that in subsuming herself so completely in the role of “Ideal Asian,” she erased herself from the storyline altogether.


A Final Word

I’ve written many a Survivor blog over the years, each one churning with theories about what was really going on out there, and usually a good half of those theories are wrong. I don’t expect this blog to be any different. We can’t prove anything because the objective evidence doesn’t exist. As always, I encourage my readers to think about what evidence we do have and come to their own conclusions.

But this time, I’m going to make one extra request: Don’t approach this with the intent of finding excuses for the statistics. Bigotry is such a serious accusation that it’s very tempting for us to latch onto other factors and say: “Well, in this instance, it doesn’t look like race had anything to do with it.” Especially for those of us who are white, we want to give the benefit of the doubt, because we’d want to be given that same benefit if we were perceived to be racist. We automatically fall into defense.

The problem is that by explaining away racial bias, we’re tacitly allowing it to continue. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it’s time to challenge ourselves and acknowledge that, yes, the statistics probably aren’t coincidence. That if the racism isn’t obvious, it’s probably more insidious and prevalent than we care to admit.

None of the players on Millennials vs. Gen X are bad people. I doubt very much that any of them are consciously or deliberately oppressing people of color. Were we in their shoes, we would probably have done much the same thing and never given it a thought. In fact, we probably fall into the trap of implicit stereotype a hundred times a day and never give it a thought…

In its role as a social experiment, Survivor can’t prove but it does support the findings of more scientifically executed studies: racial bias is an ongoing problem in modern society. So take a moment to acknowledge to yourself that you are a good person and you are not immune to cultural bias. Now carry on with your life… just try to keep your eyes open a little wider.

left-lizard-shadowright-lizard-shadowMany thanks to Mark Celera, Keith Dixon, Ari Ferrari, Resoketswe Manenzhe, Shirin Oskooi, Jonas Otsuji, Jeff Pitman, and Christian Williams for their assistance with this blog.


Further Reading:


For the complete schedule of Survivor blogs: RHAP Survivor Blog Schedule.

To read more on this topic: The Impact of Race and Gender in Thirty Seasons of Survivor.

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