As the topic of racism continues to dominate global discourse, it appears the conversation has hit reality TV in Oz.
Both Seven’s newly launched Big Brother and 10’s MasterChef have been in the headlines recently for issues relating to racism and diversity.
On Thursday, recently evicted MasterChef contestant Sarah Tiong called out a Triple M radio host for racism after one of the morning presenters greeted her with the phrase “ni hao ma” off-air before the on-air interview began.
Tiong said in an Instagram post: “This is racism. What an insensitive tone deaf thing to say. Please, check yourself and do better.”
When asked why it was offensive by some of her followers, Tiong said it was racist to assume she identified as Chinese or spoke Mandarin based off the colour of her skin.
“It is rude and privileged to assume that I understand that Asian language, just because I appear of that descent.”
MasterChef judge Melissa Leong backed Tiong up in her own Instagram story, reminding people the experience “is a mere daily occurrence for many POC.”
“It is not funny, or clever. It just illustrates how deep rooted racial toxicity is in this country, and anyone with a voice in media should know better,” she wrote.
In an interview with news.com.au, Leong said Australia is far from where it needs to be when it comes to diversity and inclusion in media.
“While I am proud to play a small part in the changing face of diversity and inclusivity in Australian media, let me be clear in saying that we are so very far from where we need to be…”
It follows Immigration Minister Alan Tudge naming Australian-born Leong as his prime example of why Australia is not racist due to the fact she is “Chinese” and “hugely popular”.
MasterChef isn’t the only reality TV show addressing racism in the media and entertainment industry, with viewers of Seven’s new season of Big Brother quick to point out the first three housemates evicted were people of colour.
While in the past seasons the Australian public voted out housemates, this season the housemates nominate and vote their own evictions.
Fijian-Australian Laura Coriakula went first, followed by Chinese-Australian Allan Liang and then Korean-Australian dad SooBong Hwang.
However, not everyone is blaming ethnicity, with Liang telling Huffpost Australia it was a “coincidence.”
“It was coincidence, it was a bit of bad luck and it just happened that Laura is of that ethnicity and that she is a strong person athletically,” he said.
“Then you’ve got me who is the brains behind the operation that plays a great social game, and then you’ve got Soobong who everyone thought was a threat because he’s quite an interesting character.”
Seven has been contacted for comment.
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