The cast of the upcoming 13th season of the reality game show "Survivor" will be divided along ethnic lines. The contestants will be segregated into four "tribes" of blacks, whites, Asians and Latinos when the hit CBS program returns on 14 September. The Building the Beloved Community Issue Committee feels this premise will only create further damage to race relations. We strongly urge to write a letter to CBS stating your concerns. For your convenience, we've provided the below letter...for background on the letter here are the references you may want to check out: NY Times and in the LA Times
CBS Television Network
51 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019
I am writing in regards to the theme of the show Survivor for the upcoming season. I do this as a member of the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom national issues committee, Building the Beloved Community, which works to fight racism and to educate others on the subject.
We strongly object to the idea of Survivors teams being divided along racial lines. Mark Bennett, the series producer, states that the show’s idea was not intended to promote racial divisiveness, but we believe it will lead to racial divisiveness whether intended or not. We challenge Bennett’s comment that “I really don’t believe there are many people who hate each other because of their race.” It seems that Bennett has no concept of the reality in our country and either lives with his head in the sand or surrounds himself with only whites. Is he totally unaware of the hate crimes committed and the many white supremacist groups in America? He also needs to know you can increase ethnic diversity on the show without pitting racial groups against each other.
In his statement regarding ethnic groups clustering together in my many cities he states that “In New York you will find areas like Little Afghanistan, maybe in the year 3010, when we’re all coffee-colored, it really will make no difference.” We question his use of “Little Afghanistan” wondering if he is playing into the stereotype of today that Afghans and others from the Middle East are terrorists. We find offensive his statement that by 3010 we will all be “coffee-colored”. Does he question why ethnic groups cluster together in communities? Could it be for safety and/or because they are unwelcome in some neighborhoods. We also question Jeff Probst’s comment, "There's a history of segregation you can't ignore. It is part of our history.” Just because we have a history of segregation doesn’t mean that it was right or that we should continue it.
We are less concerned about CBS’s ability to handle the situation sensitively than over how the audience will handle it. Will it cause an increase of racial division and tension and promote negative stereotypes among viewers? Many of us have worked for years to improve racial relations and to fight racism, prejudice and negative stereotypes. This show could lead to the undoing of all our hard work.
We strongly urge you to reconsider the idea of having the upcoming seasons Survivor based upon teams divided along racial lines. We are dedicated to boycotting Survivor, CBS and the advertisers of the show if need be. Many in our group are committed community activist and I can foresee that many of us would be willing to protest your local CBS station and to start a letter writing campaign to your advertisers.