Race takes center stage during unusual 'Survivor' tribal council

The topic of race ended up dominating the discussion during tribal council on Survivor Wednesday. "It always happens where, at one point, the Black contestants get booted out," Drea Wheeler said after she saw that Rocksroy Bailey was the second Black person in a row to be voted out. "And then it's exactly what this is right now. So, yeah, I'm pissed," she added. When Jeff Probstt asked if she thought it was race-related, Drea replied, "I think it's just subconsciously a little bit of that, unfortunately."

It was a double elimination night as the 10 remaining contestants were separated into two groups of five. After the first group voted out Rocksroy, Drea decided to make a stand during the second tribal. Drea wasn't going to be the third Black person voted off in a row, and declared that she was playing her immunity idol, keeping her safe for the night. Drea wasn't the only one bothered by the situation, Maryanne Otech announced to the rest of the group that she couldn't write down Drea's name, as was previously planned, because she didn't want to be "part of a perpetuating problem." Maryanne also felt like, even though she didn't think she was getting any votes, she also had to play her immunity idol. "I need to play this so that people who are watching will know that I didn't make it another day because of race," Maryanne explained. "I, a thousand percent, Jeff, with a thousand percent certainty, can tell you that if both of us don't play our idols tonight, there will be someone watching and saying they used race."

Jonathan Young was listening to Maryanne and Drea talk about their concerns, and it concerned him that they thought he was racist. "I don't feel like this is right, because y'all are coming at this as like, we're racist," Jonathan said. Maryanne tried to explain that everyone can have subconscious biases, but that didn't make him feel any better. "That's saying that I'm subconsciously racist, and that's not true," he exclaimed. Drea put his mind at ease by explaining it's not about him. She told him, "Just because I'm saying how I feel, at this moment, does not mean that you can make that your problem. This is my situation, my issue. I'm addressing it the way I wanted to address it."

It was a very heavy discussion, but at the end of it, there was still a game to be played. Although, everyone felt awkward going through the motions of voting someone out. So Probst gave them the option of forgoing the "pomp and circumstance" of going up and writing down a name, and instead they could just talk it all out right there.

So with that, Drea and Maryanne gave Probst their idols, and since Jonathan also had immunity, it came down between Lindsay Dolashewich and Tori Meehan. Everyone pretty quickly decided they were voting for Tori, so she played her shot in the dark, which gave her a one in six chance of staying. Unfortunately for Tori, she did not have the luck of the draw and Probst snuffed her torch.

Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.

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Video Transcript

DREA WHEELER: It always happens where, at one point, the Black contestants get booted out boom, boom, boom, and then, it's exactly what this is, right now. So yeah, I'm pissed.

JEFF PROBST: So do you think it's race related?

DREA WHEELER: I think it's just subconsciously a little bit of that, unfortunately.

KYLIE MAR: Tribal council was more tense than usual on "Survivor," Wednesday, as race became the focal point of the conversation. It was a double elimination night, with two sets of tribal councils. And after the first group voted out Rocksroy, making him the second Black person in a row to be voted out, Drea decided to make a stand.

DREA WHEELER: I can tell you right now, I'm playing my idol tonight, so that I can stay in this game.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

So I'm not going to let that happen to another one of us, point blank.

KYLIE MAR: While CBS recently made it a point to diversify their reality shows, people of color have historically not been represented very well on "Survivor." So it wasn't surprising that Drea and Maryanne were both triggered, when they saw Rocksroy sitting next to Chanelle. But their concerns made Jonathan get defensive because he felt like he was being called a racist.

MARYANNE OKETCH: There are subconscious bias that I might have that you don't know exist subconscious. And that plays a part--

JONATHAN YOUNG: No, that's-- that's saying I'm subconsciously racist.

MARYANNE OKETCH: I'm not saying that you're subconsciously--

DREA WHEELER: We never said it was you.

MARYANNE OKETCH: No.

DREA WHEELER: We're saying how we feel. Just because I'm saying how I feel at this moment, does not mean that you can make that your problem. This is my situation, my issue. I'm addressing it the way I want to address it.

KYLIE MAR: And Maryanne, also wanted to address the situation in her own way.

MARYANNE OKETCH: I don't think there's any votes which are going to me, tonight, but I need to play this, so that people who are watching will know that I didn't make it another day because of race.

JEFF PROBST: Then it wouldn't be fair if you could hold that believing you wouldn't get votes because of the topic.

- You wouldn't be able to.

KYLIE MAR: Viewers took to Twitter to praise Drea and Maryanne, with one person tweeting, "This survivor moment is so needed. Black players standing together in solidarity against this cycle of unconscious bias is critical."

But after all of that, there still was a game to be played. And since it felt awkward to still go through the whole pomp and circumstance of voting, they just did it all right there. After Drea and Maryanne played their hidden immunity idols, it basically came down to a game of chance for Tori and Lindsay.

JEFF PROBST: Tori, you are not safe.

- Sorry, Tori.

TORI MEEHAN: It's OK. I prayed about it.

- Oh, Tori.

TORI MEEHAN: I knew God could have made me safe, but--

- Tori.

- Sorry, Tori.

JEFF PROBST: You need to bring me your torch.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

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