How the Newest Episode of “Survivor” is Opening Up a Discussion of Race Online

Potential spoilers for last night's episode.
By Savannah Moss
Image: @SurvivorCBS | Twitter

Survivor, a beloved show that puts people’s strength to the test as they survive on an island in teams, fighting to not be eliminated, is creating conversation on race after last night’s episode in season 42. The show surprised everyone when it was announced that not one, but two, people would be eliminated. Last season, three Black contestants, Liana, Deshawn, and Danny opened up about what it is like to be Black and feeling the usual pressures of the show, but also feeling the added pressure as a Black person and what that means in the show. This season, a contestant named Drea said she felt proud to see four contestants that were Black on the show, but noticed that half of them had been eliminated back to back.

Jeff Probst, the host of the show, asked her if it was race-related. The show has been called out before for lack of diversity, so many felt it was significant that Probst asked the question and opened the door for the answer, instead of letting it go. Drea said that she believed it was, but “subconsciously.” And although there had been a plan to vote Drea out, a contestant said that she felt like she could not do it “morally” after Drea had shared her opinion on the voting.


One contestant, Johnathon, felt defensive, saying that he felt as if she was calling him racist, but also said she was being “aggressive” which is a stereotype that many Black women have to deal with. This contestant also happened to wear matted locks, which many pointed out as the appropriation of Black culture. Overall, many pointed out that Drea’s comments on how race can play into Survivor, even on a level they might not recognize, should not be overlooked. Drea says that though everyone has a 1 in 18 chance of winning, some people may have privileges in the game, which she says “sucks.” Although not everyone was on the same page when watching last night’s episode, many pointed out that the conversation of race came up in both seasons, meaning that it has had an impact on people in more seasons than just this one.