Julie Chen defended the first all-Black alliance in "Big Brother" history to Entertainment Weekly.
The franchise has a well-documented history of racism over its 23 seasons. The Cookout isn't racist.
If a member of The Cookout wins "Big Brother," they will be the first Black person to win the game.
"I have heard some call the formation of the Cookout a form of racism," she said. "In my humble opinion, it is not."
Chen Moonves went on to say that in the game of "Big Brother," where people have to lie and backstab each other in order to have a chance to win a huge cash prize ($750,000 this season), it's quite "impressive" to see a group of six players make it so far with their loyalty to each other intact.
The Cookout alliance is comprised of Azah Awasum, a 30-year-old director of sales operations from Baltimore; Hannah Chaddha, a 21-year old college student from Chicago; Derek Frazier, a 29-year-old security officer from Philidelphia; Tiffany Mitchell, a 40-year-old phlebotomist from Detroit; Xavier Prather, a 27-year old attorney living in Milwaukee; and Kyland Young, a 29-year old account executive currently living in Venice Beach.
If the alliance's success continues, season 23 will be the first time in the show's two-decade history that a white male player does not make it to the jury that decides the winner of the show. It would also be the first time a Black contestant wins the grand prize.
"Big Brother" has a well-documented history of racism that Chen Moonves addressed in another interview with Entertainment Weekly before the season premiere. "In summers past, we've seen some people who are used to their bubble," she said of past contestants who were accused of racist or racially insensitive behavior while competing. The lack of exposure to diversity in their everyday lives caused them to act out in "unacceptable" ways, according to the host.
While The Cookout is getting negative attention from some fans, others are rooting for those players as the season progresses. In Los Angeles Times writer Greg Braxton's feature about the historic alliance, one "Big Brother" watcher named Thane Montgomery - who is white - told Braxton that they are amused by the "anti-Cookout sentiment" and are rooting for one of those players to win.
"People are upset, and honestly, I kind of love it," Montgomery said of some fans' negative reactions to the allliance. "It's people who have never had this opportunity before banding together to do what the white houseguests have been doing for years."
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