Survivor Contestant Confronts Jeff about Race — Island of Social Change?

AJ Wilson
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Survivor has been on the air since 2000. In that time, the world has changed, and the game with it. At times, though, the show is often behind the curve a bit, with social change not always reaching the game.

However, Island of the Idols has been different. Throughout the season, the players haven’t been afraid to tackle various social concerns, from the Sexual Harassment controversy to the discussion of racial stereotypes. But why this season? And, why does it matter?

Social Change on Survivor


The first big social issue tackled this season happened when Jack asked Jamal to grab a pot with his “Du-Rag.” This led to the two having a very touching conversation tackling white privilege. Unlike other moments this season, Jack apologized to Jamal.

While this moment was relatively brief, it was probably the most positive discussion this season. Amazingly, Jamal and Jack worked together, before both were voted out. See Jack’s full thoughts on the subject here.

Survivor Women’s Alliance Paranoia

Kellee, Noura, Karishma and Janet respond to Jamal’s paranoia of a women’s alliance.

In the Tribal Council from episode seven, Jamal opened up about his paranoia of a women’s alliance. The women of the tribe, however, called this paranoia sexist. Kellee in particular calls the belief “arbitrary” and says men are viewed completely different. Karishma even mentioned the social change throughout America.

Jamal defended himself, asking if Noura had thought of a women’s alliance. She admitted she had, but because it would make her a bad player if she hadn’t. However, none of them were voted out as Dean idoled out Jack.

Survivor #MeToo Controversy

The tribe’s reaction at the next Tribal Council to the #MeToo Controversy.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the #MeToo Controversy from Episode 8 of this season. The social change surrounding sexual assault has been everywhere for over a year, but it found itself on Survivor.

Kellee Kim voiced her discomfort with Dan Spilo’s amount of touching, which was then turned into gameplay. So, Janet heard these concerns, and spearheaded the vote to take out Dan. Kellee got voted out, and Dan deflected questions at Tribal Council. Missy Byrd and Elizabeth Beisel also used the situation to further their games. At the Tribal Council after Kellee’s elimination, Aaron attacked Janet, saying she played the victim. Read here for a full breakdown.

Survivor African-American Challenge Recognition?

At the second half of this week’s Double Tribal Council, Missy Byrd asked Jeff why he hadn’t recognized Missy and Aaron’s challenge win, as both are African-American. Furthermore, she explains that minorities and women are both targeted, so it felt strange that it wasn’t acknowledged.

Jeff responded that he honestly hadn’t noticed, but didn’t want to make the moment seem out of the ordinary. Missy accepts this, but Missy’s point gets backed up. She, along with Aaron, were voted out at the Double Tribal Council.

This season has featured a lot of social change commentary! I personally think that it’s a wonderful thing. By letting these topics come out, we get to further the need for change. One thing’s for sure though, this season is far from over! What will happen next? Tune into CBS on Wednesday at 8/7 Central to find out!

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