Former “Survivor” contestant Ramona Gray Amaro says the show often plays into stereotypes of black people while portraying their storylines.Amaro w
Former “Survivor” contestant Ramona Gray Amaro says the show often plays into stereotypes of black people while portraying their storylines.
Amaro was the first back woman to compete on the series after joining the original 2000 season. However, when she finally saw how footage of her from the island was edited for CBS, she felt she was cut to play into stereotypes that the black community often faces.
“I became the lazy person, which is the furthest thing from the truth,” Amaro told NPR. “That really upset me and it took me a long time to get over it… To realize, we signed our life away. They can do whatever they want to do.”
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She was voted off the island after just 12 days, meaning she left with nothing but the public thinking she was something she isn’t. After watching the show for the past 20 years, Amaro believes that the show routinely portrays its black contestants in stereotypical ways.
“We can’t swim… we butt heads, we’re athletic, but maybe not smart and strategic,” she explained. “I’m just saying, ‘Do right by us.'”
The “Survivor” Season 1 contestant isn’t alone in her criticism of the show. Several other black former contestants are calling for change in the wake of heightened awareness of systemic racism sparked by the death of George Floyd while in police custody on May 25.
The outlet reports their requests include the hiring of more people of color to work behind the scenes in casting, editing and producing to help improve how people of color are portrayed on the reality competition series. They’re also calling for the network to enforce a zero-tolerance policy for racist acts and to avoid creating storylines that play into racial stereotypes.
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Representatives for CBS did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
J’Tia Hart, who competed on the 2014 season of “Survivor” and shares Amaro’s feelings, created a MoveOn.org petition that’s gained more than 5,000 signatures asking for a bevy of changes to take place on the show, including having CBS ensure that at least 30 percent of the show’s cast are people of color.
“What they don’t do a great job with, is telling positive stories and connecting with the multifacets of being African-American,” she told NPR. “I have a degree in nuclear engineering from a top engineering school. I’m a mother. I work in national security. I am very well-rounded. And I just got boiled down to a simple trope of a lazy, unintelligent person.”
Former “Survivor” contestant Rob Cesternino hosted an episode of his podcast last week in which 12 black alumni of the show discussed having a similar experience, noting the stress of auditioning for white executives, the challenge of dealing with their white castmates’ perception of them while simultaneously playing the rigorously difficult game and having to ignore the alleged use of racial slurs among their fellow contestants.
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In response to the black alumni’s calls, CBS told the outlet that it plans to meet with former contestants to discuss their complaints and potential changes in the future.