Season 18 of Big Brother was controversial at best. It premiered during one of the most tense sociopolitical moments in recent American memory. Consequently, issues of race, feminism, and intersectionality—especially hot-button issues at the time (and at the time of writing this post)—were simply unavoidable. The two black women in the show—Da’Vonne Rogers and Zakiyah Everette—were the focus of many of the episodes. However, much of their spotlight garnered negative attention.
I first watched Big Brother on Season 17. This was when Da’Vonne was first introduced to the show. Naturally, when she (and another contestant from Season 17) returned in Season 18, I wanted to watch. What I observed in both seasons, however, were deplorable representations and stereotypes against Da’Vonne. This also translated to representations of Zakiyah. This is especially because she and Da’Vonne fostered a very deep connection, due to what is ostensibly a product of their shared identities. The more outspoken person of the duo was unabashedly Da’Vonne, who came to be known for her apparent magnetism to conflict.
One of the most notable incidents involved Da’Vonne and another former contestant, Frank Eudy. Nearly halfway through the season, Frank mentioned that he became “more comfortable” around the rest of the contestants—specifically women—and his socialization began to reflect that. The incident involving Frank and Da’Vonne is de facto sexual assault. Cameras caught Frank slapping Da’Vonne on her butt, to which Da’Vonne and many others in the house (primarily women) had taken issue with. When called out, Frank denied his actions as sexual assault. He dismissed their claims and retorted that his actions reflect his playful nature.
“I just kinda popped her butt. It’s not the first time. Usually she laughs. It’s something I do with my mom and my nana”
This situation is akin to many others which women with intersectional identities—especially black women—deal with. As a consequence of her outrage, many other contestants—specifically white men and their sympathizers—dubbed Da’Vonne as “crazy” or a “loose cannon”. Unfortunately for Da’Vonne, this characterization permeated to other moments in the season, ultimately ending in her eviction from the house.
Season 18 of Big Brother was an affirmation of the thoughts many viewers previously had of Season 17. There is an inherent bias against women and minorities which disadvantages their competitiveness from the beginning. At the intersection of these biases are most often black women—who are blamed, dismissed, and even assaulted simply due to their identities.
If you would like to read more about the occurrences in Season 18 of Big Brother, this article does a good job of summing it all up.