Many members of Season 23’s “The Cookout” alliance — the first all-Black alliance to make it to the final six — took to Twitter to share their disgust over the multiple comments made behind Hale’s back by Paloma Aguilar and other houseguests. Hale has been referred to as “aggressive,” and some have assumed she will have a temper tantrum if she doesn’t get her away. On the show’s live feeds, Hale was shown crying alone in a room, and some cast members have stated that they didn’t like her from the moment they saw her.
In one conversation captured on a live feed, Head of Household Daniel Durston and Aguilar discussed the nominations, as he worried that having “two Black people on the block at the end of my week” would look bad for him. “We need to put that aside, and America needs to put that aside,” Aguilar responded. When Durston reminded her that not everyone watches the live feeds so they wouldn’t see what’s happening, she said, “It can be explained afterwards. We need to play this game.”
Season 23 winner Xavier Prather shared a lengthy statement via Twitter following the premiere, noting that this treatment is why the famous alliance was created in the first place.
“Members of the black community (especially black women) and other people of color stand no chance in the Big Brother House due to perpetuation of micro-aggressions and unconscious biases which plague our society,” he wrote. “I acknowledge my shortcomings during my time on Big Brother and can’t help but feel partially responsible for some of the reprehensible behavior I see being exhibited by current houseguests who consider me one of their ‘favorites.’ For that, I’d like to apologize for being an accessory to any ongoing issues. I’ve tried to learn from my conduct and educate myself so that I can stand beside those who need my support, as I attempt to do for Taylor now. In the future, I hope it doesn’t take a ‘Cookout’ for any Black houseguests (or any POC houseguest) to finally escape the feeling of being ostracized within the Big Brother House for simply existing. Change is a MUST!”
Cookout member Azäh Awasum also joined the conversation. “I see questions on my timeline showing some confusion over what Taylor is experiencing. Giving the definition of colorism for context. Colorism:prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group,” she wrote. “I made a cognizant effort to ‘dial back’ in the house for these exact reason. Dark skinned women always have this in the back of our heads. CBS teaches about racial microagressions but a section on colorism would be beneficial. Taylor’s light will shine outside this house.”
One casting producer for the show, who chooses to remain anonymous, also shared their shock at Hale’s treatment, calling the situation “really disappointing.”
They also confirmed that 50% of the casting team is members of the BIPOC community, who do everything possible to make sure the cast feels safe.
This season, the 16-person cast includes 10 members of the BIPOC community. Variety confirms that production has had conversations with the houseguests about microaggressions and that everyone went through the sensitivity training at the beginning of the year.