Big Brother Castmember Tolerated Racism to Avoid Black Stereotypes


On last night’s Big Brother, Howard, one of the show’s two African-American castmates, was voted out of the house. It’s been a particularly trying season of Big Brother for the contestants of color as several of the white house guests have outed themselves as blatant, unabashed racists.

Among the most hideous things uttered: GinaMarie referring to welfare as “nigger insurance,” multiple cast members making fun of Asian contestant Helen’s her eye shape, telling Helen to go cook some rice and the repeated taunting of Candace, a black woman, by calling her Aunt Jemima and asking when her “blackness” was going to come out.

With that, it was sad — albeit expected — to see Howard forced out of the house last night. But while it would have been nice to see him prevail and go on to win over that shitty group of bigots, it was interesting to get his perspective on what happened inside the house and the way that he and Candace handled it. And by interesting, what I really mean is utterly depressing.

“You were very aware of the racist behavior and the racist things that were said inside the house,” said Big Brother host Julie Chen. “How hard was it for you to hold your tongue?”

“Probably the hardest thing in the world,” Howard responded. “Outside the Big Brother house, it’s easy to walk away or stay out of those situations, but when you’re face-t0-face with it and you’re in the fire and you can’t go anywhere and you know it’s right next to you, it’s terribly hard.”

The fact that Howard was expected to hold his tongue or walk away when being bombarded with such hatred is absolutely outrageous and yet it’s an expectation that our culture constantly places on black men and women. Quietly put up with bullshit harassment because respond angrily, and you’ll immediately be labeled as The Angry Black Person.

When Julie asked why he didn’t confront the household’s racism more directly, Howard replied that he was worried about people seeing him angry.

“My temper,” he said. “I didn’t want anyone to see it.”

This isn’t the first time he’s brought up not allowing people to see how hurt or upset he is. In an earlier in-house incident, he advised Candace against expressing her very legitimate anger at the cast members who were continually harassing her, saying that they would use her emotions against her and use it to reinforce negative racial stereotypes.

What’s more fucked up: That two black people aren’t allowed to be angry in infuriating circumstances? Or that this is something the white people in the house — the ones who are behaving reprehensibly — will never have to consider in regards to their own actions?

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