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In the realm of reality television, where cameras capture unscripted (for the most part) conversations and dynamics, the CBS reality powerhouse, ‘Big Brother’, finds itself back in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Luke Valentine, a houseguest, has been removed from the show for using a racial slur during a conversation with fellow cast members. This incident amplifies the ongoing challenge the show faces in championing diversity and confronting racial insensitivity head-on.

The houseguest, who is white, dropped the N-word during a conversation with his houseguests on Tuesday night. “We were in the (inaudible) room, n****,” he said before quickly catching himself, chuckling and then briefly apologizing.

Swiftly addressing the matter, CBS issued a statement that left no room for ambiguity.

“Luke violated the ‘Big Brother’ code of conduct and there is zero tolerance in the house for using a racial slur. He has been removed from the house,” CBS said in the statement. This move sends a powerful message that such behavior won’t be tolerated (as much) anymore.

After witnessing the incident, a lot of “Big Brother” viewers went on social media and demanded that Valentine should be kicked off the show right away. This also includes previous casts of the show.

Resurfacing Racism

But this isn’t the first time Big Brother has been in trouble. Since it started in the U.S. in 2000, there have been many instances of racism within the house. In the last twenty years, people have accused the show of being unfair to different races and not treating everyone equally, which goes against what the show says it “stands for.”

Recent years haven’t brought relief from claims of discrimination. Jackson Michie, the season 21 winner in 2019, faced accusations of biased choices based on age and race.

In the same season, Kemi Fakunle, a contestant, boldly voiced her frustration with the happenings inside the Big Brother house. Her outspokenness ignited crucial conversations about the show’s dynamics.

“Today, racism doesn’t look like what it did back in the day because you do have social media, live feeds” Fakunle noted, adding “People trying to be a little bit more politically correct for the sake of the appearance of themselves. But from my experience, a lot of these times racism these days is expressed through microaggressions.”

However, the producers have defended the unfiltered content, noting that viewers see both edited broadcasts and raw moments via 24/7 live streams. A 2019 statement acknowledged occasional inappropriate behavior, promising action against it. Yet, they firmly denied allegations of racial bias or predetermined outcomes.

Nonetheless, viewers of the show expressed that they will stop watching if acts of racism and microaggressions persist.

CBS quickly showcased their firm commitment to their new policy, by expelling the cast member. Setting a groundbreaking precedent as it’s the network’s first immediate response to hate speech with removal from the show.


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