Archive for October 4th, 2021

BLACK PEOPLE O! – MOVING TO RETURN LAND TO BLACK OWNERS

October 4, 2021

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BLACK PEOPLE O! – BIG BROTHER GETS FIRST BLACK WINNER O!

October 4, 2021

‘Big Brother’ finally has its first Black winner. Getting there required a secret alliance that outsmarted the show’s troubled history.

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From left, Kyland Young, Hannah Chaddha, Derek Frazier, Tiffany Mitchell, Azah Awasum, and Xavier Prather on “Big Brother” Season 23. (CBS)

By Emily Yahr

September 30, 2021

If you’re not a regular “Big Brother” viewer, it might have been hard to appreciate the emotional scene at the end of the Sept. 9 episode: After starting out the season with 16 contestants, the reality competition series was finally down to just six people — and all six were members of “the Cookout,” the secret all-Black alliance that was formed in the first week.Get the full experience.Choose your plan

That meant, for the first time ever, a Black contestant was guaranteed to win “Big Brother,” the long-running CBS show (known as a “social experiment”) in which 16 people are locked in a house andcompete in physical and mental challenges, all while voting one another out, one by one. For a show that has consistently made headlines for majority-White casts with some contestants who behaved in racist ways and continually sidelined people of color, this was a very significant moment in the show’s two-decade history.

After the Top 6 list was official, contestant Xavier Prather broke down crying. “We did it,” he said, as he hugged Kyland Young. “We did it.” The camera panned to show all of the Cookout — other members included Tiffany Mitchell, Hannah Chaddha, Azah Awasum and Derek Frazier — clapping and laughing and celebrating, with several on the verge of tears.Story continues below advertisement

On Wednesday night’s finale, Xavier, a 27-year-old attorney from Milwaukee, was crowned the winner of “Big Brother” Season 23 and the recipient of the $750,000 grand prize by a unanimous vote from a nine-member jury of evicted players. Derek, a 29-year-old safety officer from Philadelphia and son of boxing legend “Smokin’ ” Joe Frazier, came in second place and won $75,000.

“You made history,” host Julie Chen Moonves told Xavier. “How are you feeling right now?”

“It’s surreal. I wouldn’t have been here without all the members of the Cookout,” he said, also giving a shout-out to the jury and non-jury contestants. “I can’t thank you enough. I’m so blessed to have met every one of you. We all made history.”

But even though Xavier’s victory was a historic first for the show with a rabidly loyal fan base, the story of the season was the Cookout, which became the only six-person alliance in “Big Brother” to make it all the way to the Top 6 without losing a member. The fact that the members were the only six Black contestants this season made it even more groundbreaking, given that contestants of color are frequently voted out early in the game.

“It was an incredible moment that makes me emotional, and probably will continue to do so for the rest of my life,” Kyland said in an exit interview after leaving the show in fourth place last week. “Growing up as someone who is both Black and Latino, I have come to understand the importance of representation. And when you see someone that looks like you that achieves a level of success or excellence at any level — even something that could be viewed as trivial, like a reality competition show — it matters.”Story continues below advertisement

The Cookout (which one contestant called “the greatest alliance in ‘Big Brother’ history” during the finale) was introduced to the TV audience in the July 14 episode, in a conversation among several of the members. “Everything is not about the game,” Tiffany said. “The game brought us here.”

“Absolutely. We’re here to also change the culture,” Derek said. “Think about the year we just had. The whole Black Lives Matter movement — like, it’s important for us to be here.”

“And stick together,” Tiffany said.

“Correct,” Derek agreed.

The scene switched to Azah in the “diary room,” or confessional. “It is so beautiful, amazing, and historical to come into this house and see people who share my culture, who share my upbringing, who I can bond with,” Azah said.Story continues below advertisement

In addition to keeping the alliance a tightly kept secret and dealing with the usual bizarre “Big Brother” twists that routinely upend the game, Tiffany created a strategy that involved each of the Cookout members pairing up with another person in the house as an informal duo. That way, the Cookout would not only have more allies to help them in the game, but the duos would look like bigger targets and take the pressure off the Cookout.

It worked flawlessly — but meant that the Cookout members bonded closely with another person only toturn on them and send them home when it was time for the weekly eviction. Tiffany in particular was close friends with another cast member, Claire Rehfuss, who trusted her so implicitly that Tiffany felt compelled to explain to her why she had to vote her out. Claire was hurt, but understood.

“It really, really sucks because I can’t be that mad at her,” Claire sobbed to the camera in the diary room. “Because I know that Tiff doesn’t want to see part of this long tradition that’s happened in ‘Big Brother,’ where people of color and people who are Black go out, and they’re put against each other and they’re sent out. I know so many people won’t get it. But I get it. And that’s why I can’t fight her on this.”

Such scenes as this also led to calls of “reverse racism” on social media, as some fans complained that targeting non-Black contestants was unfair — never mind the years when all-White alliances sent people of color home near the beginning of the game or the level of masterminding it took for a six-person alliance to successfully fly under the radar.Story continues below advertisement

“People have forgotten what the term racism is, so they tend to just throw it out there as a label when something is uncomfortable to them,” Jun Song, the Season 4 winner of “Big Brother,” told Entertainment Weekly in a piece that addressed the criticism. “This was never about Black versus White. It was more about this kind of beautiful solidarity between six people who came together. Maybe they didn’t even realize at first that it was for a cause, but now it has become a cause.”

The Cookout didn’t have an easy journey: Kyland, in his exit interview, confirmed that playing the game as a team led to uncomfortable moments, particularly when they got to the final six and had to turn against one another. After all, if he had stuck with his other allies rather than just the Cookout members — whom he didn’t always get along with — he might have made it even further than fourth place.

“It was incredibly difficult to put my personal game aside for the benefit of the Cookout,” he said. “I came into this house expecting to compete just for myself. But as soon as I realized there was a bigger opportunity and I had to shift my goal from being the first Black winner of ‘Big Brother’ to just ensuring that the first Black winner happened this year no matter what — even if I had to give up my entire game, that choice was easy to make.”Story continues below advertisement

Tiffany made similar comments when she was evicted and had to explain to the jury the idea behind the Cookout. She said she had to remind herself, “Tiff, this is not about the money. This is something that never has been done before. This is something five other people are agreeing to do along with you, and you have to try to do your part.” (Viewers were clearly impressed by Tiffany, and awarded her the $50,000 “America’s Favorite Houseguest” prize voted on by fans.)

In the end, Kyland said, all of his decisions were worth it. “When I look at the legacy of the Cookout, I look at Black achievement and Black excellence,” he said. “We had to face some crazy twists, some very stiff competitors, and just an overall difficult, emotional, psychological game. And we were able to get it done. That’s something that I think all of us are proud of and grateful to have had a part in.”

‘ Viewers often make offensive comments. But this episode was still unusual.17 CommentsGift ArticleBig Brother’ contestants


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