Evicted Ovi weighs in on if there is racism in the Big Brother house
He also addresses the issue of bullying.
The first three people sent out of the game and to Camp Comeback this season on Big Brother were all people of color. Was that a coincidence, or were Ovi Kabir, David Alexander, and Kemi Fakunle targeted (either consciously or not) for looking different and coming from a different background? It’s a question we posed to all three ousted contestants when they called into EW Live (SiriusXM, channel 109) on Friday afternoon and we got some very interesting answers.
Check out our interview with Ovi below, where he weighs in on if there is racism in the house, why he went up to the HOH room to stick up for Nicole when others were ganging up on her behind a closed door, and the difficulty of still playing the game while being out of it. (Also check out our interviews with Kemi and David.)
EW LIVE: We saw you get upset over the way that big alliance was locking themselves in the HOH room and treating Nicole. There was a lot of talk about bullying in the house. Do you think there was bullying going on in there, and what was it about that moment that made you sort of speak up and go up there?
OVI KABIR: Bullying is such a strong word and it’s so hard to say ‘cause I was in that house and I don’t know the other conversations going on. But I’ve experienced isolation and things like that my whole life, and it made me uncomfortable. And in that moment I did feel really uncomfortable. And when people maybe do things to me, it doesn’t grind my gears as much. But when it’s someone I love, like Nicole, that really grinded my gears and I felt that I needed to go up there because it switched from games to personal.
I felt bad because people were laughing, making jokes up there. Well, there are three people here who are in Camp Comeback and being shut out of this place. So I felt that need to go up there and say something about it. Because Nicole was my friend and I told myself that I hold my values going into house and at this moment I was in Camp Comeback, I have not much to lose and I had to speak my mind.
Do you think anything you said resonated with any of them or was there just a kind of mob mentality?
I think it’s a mob mentality. You know, sometimes it’s like the bystander effect. So even if you felt differently, even if there are people in that room who felt differently, even just two strong personalities in there made that the way it happened. So people just followed that and that has been when we get hurt. I always believe you have to be an active bystander. You can’t just sit and let something just happen when you think it’s not right. So I like to think that not everyone felt the same way about that situation. I don’t know if the things I said resonated in their heads, and there was a snap in the game right after that happened. The house started to get a lot colder and attitudes started to change pretty quickly.
It’s gotta be tough because you’re still trying to play a social game even though you’re not “in the game.” We saw this montage of you trying to walk into rooms and people would either ask you to leave or not even let you in. That’s gotta be tough to take.
Oh, man, it was the worst. That was probably the hardest thing. And then, I am super grateful to be on the show. I love the game. I love it so much, it’s amazing. But there came a point when this kept happening over and over again. I told myself, this isn’t fun anymore, you know? And I had to switch to get from fun to, this is work and I need to find out a way to work my way back in.
But it was just so tough because I would walk into a room and literally it would take, you know, I think there was a record, it would take only 12 seconds for everyone to disperse. Five people would be a room and leave. David and I were joking, we’re just gonna start timing it. You know, we’re gonna ask for a stopwatch to see how long it takes everyone to wave and just go to a different place.
So it was tough. We made light of it, but it was a hard situation and I’m really thankful actually for David’s friendship and even Kemi’s friendship and those times within Camp Comeback, ‘cause it would’ve been hard if it was just by myself. Also, Cliff and Nicole were there for me. Cliff was at my side playing backgammon every single day and loved me for who I was. So if it wasn’t for those people, it would’ve been much harder now. So I’m grateful for them.
Obviously, we noticed the first three people put in Camp Comeback were you, David, and Kemi: all people of color. And so that leads to the natural question: Do you think race played any issue in terms you guys being targeted, or was that just a coincidence?
I don’t want to speak for Kemi’s and David’s experience in there. And I don’t know what was said behind closed doors. However, I don’t think there was blatant racism or anything like that going on as the reason we were targeted. But subconsciously, yeah, I think some things came into play. Kemi, David, and I are three people from different backgrounds that don’t share the same commonalities as some of these other houseguests in there. So bonding in certain ways is more difficult for us in those things. And you find whatever you can in the house to single somebody out. And so maybe our differences were the reasons why it played in some people’s heads.
I do think a lot of it was more so game than that, but it’s hard to say. You know, I’d have to watch everything back again and get the perspective of other people. But there were times where it definitely didn’t feel like that. If you didn’t look at the name Camp Comeback in our room, you might think something differently. And I mean, David and I had those conversations. Kemi and I had those conversations. But I think that subconsciously there are things that we don’t think about, and it just happens in our head and we let that happen and sometimes we have to put on the break and say like, “Hey, hold on. Why are we doing this and this exactly? Is this game-related or is there something else going on?
Can you tell us a little more about what those conversations you had with David and Kemi were like?
We just talked about how hard sometimes it might’ve been to bond with some of these people, or how they wouldn’t allow us or give us a chance to bond in certain ways. I know David specifically felt that, because he came in day 15, that some of those bonds were already made. We felt that might be attributed to us having different backgrounds. Not just maybe the color of our skin, but also the way we grew up and things like that.
So you look around the room and there’s one commonality and yeah, we shared that our pigmentation or skin was different. But I also think we look at the other people who are targeted at the house. We’re seeing a trend in there too. You know, David, then I went, and then Kemi. It’s tough to say. I don’t want to say anything bad about the houseguests in there and I honestly do not think there was any blatant racism going on in the house from my perspective. However, again, if subconsciously things happen on the mind, I think that played out in there.