Big Brother 21 just started, and it already has a racism problem. The premiere of the camp-themed 21st season of the CBS reality show kicked off with a bizarre twist that featured “camp director” Jackson Michie tasked with banishing four players from the house before any gameplay even began.
Michie, a Nashville native, chose oldest player Cliff Hogg III, plus-size model Jessica Milagros, and black contestants Kemi Fakunle and David Alexander to be banished from Big Brother, with Alexander ultimately losing the battle to return to the house after finishing last in a competition titled “Camp B.B.”
While Jackson Michie’s decision to banish Hogg, Milagros, Fakunle, and Alexander appeared to competition-related—several of them campaigned against him to be camp director—Big Brother fans took to social media to blast producers of the show for racism.
In addition to slamming Big Brother casting directors for their “typical” cast lineup that features few people of color—longtime Big Brother casting director Robyn Kass was directly called out for not casting more diverse group of houseguests—several viewers called out Jackson Michie for his poor and “predictable” choice to banish the minorities in the house.
You can see some of the reaction from Big Brother fans below.
@CBSBigBrother REALLY. The meathead Southern white boy banished the old gut, the fat girl &the only 2 black contestants.— Lisa Cristia (@lisacyoulater) June 27, 2019
Straight of the White Boy Racist Handbook. #typical #racist #lame #RUfingkiddingme
y’all telling me we have to have the same season every year @CBSBigBrother EVERY YEAR. 2 black people. an old person. but this year, you added in a plus size woman but all 4 were/are threatened with eviction ????????♀️????????♀️????????♀️????????♀️????????♀️????????♀️????????♀️— Zaria ???? (@lovemeliketyler) June 27, 2019
Banishing the only 2 black houseguests, the eldest houseguest, and the only plus size houseguest during the first night.... makes you look so bad. I really hope Jackson is a prejury boot. Casting needs more open minded Southern men. Robyn needs to do better. This aint it. #BB21— V E L E N A #BB21 (@VelenaWWE) June 27, 2019
David Alexander’s short stint in the Big Brother house was especially disappointing because he had hoped to represent his culture. In a tearful diary room confessional, Alexander said he wanted to be the first black person to win Big Brother, which has aired on CBS every summer since 2000.
“I wanted to represent African American culture in a different light,” the banished Big Brother player said, per Yahoo Entertainment.
It should be noted that Alexander could return to Big Brother later in the season. After his banishment was announced, host Julie Chen Moonves informed him that he’s out of the house “for now.”
Big Brother has dealt with racism allegations in the past. Last season, TMZ reported that two contestants were caught on camera making questionable comments about skin color. Big Brother 20 stars Rachel Swindler and Angela Rummans reportedly complained that the sun was making their skin too dark, and they described it as looking “ghetto.” Swindler reportedly started the conversation by saying her stomach was as dark as African American houseguest Bayleigh Dayton’s and added that if she is out in the sun for more than two days, she would “change ethnicities.”
In addition, contestant JC Mounduix came under fire for saying the N-word during a conversation with Bayleigh Dayton. Mounduix was trying to explain how some terms for “little” people are comparable to the N-word, but Dayton cut him short, telling him he is not allowed to ever say that word. CBS aired the exchange on Big Brother after running a disclaimer distancing the network from the opinions of the houseguests.
Six years ago, the 15th season of Big Brother included multiple contestants who spewed homophobic and racist comments about their African American and Asian housemates. In a roundtable discussion with The Hollywood Reporter, Julie Chen Moonves admitted that was a difficult season for her to host.
“The thing that was hardest for me to watch was overt racism in the house [in 2013],” Chen revealed.
Chen called out contestant Aaryn Gries specifically, saying producers thought the blonde Texas beauty was going to be America’s sweetheart.
“But after a few weeks, that beauty faded and the inside came out, and the inside was ugly to the bone,” the Big Brother host said.
Ahead of this season’s “Camp B.B.” banishment twist, Big Brother casting director Robyn Kass took to Twitter to note that she has nothing to do with anything beyond the show’s casting decisions, including twists, evictions, gameplay, comps, feeds, audio, alliances, or set design.
Big Brother 21 airs Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays on CBS.