Kevin Of ‘The Real World’ Still Deserves An Apology — But, White Privilege
MTV first reality show’s interaction between Powell and Rebecca Blasband didn’t change much after 30 years
When the original cast of The Real World appeared on MTV, I was nine years old. And to be honest, back then, I’d usually just change the channel whenever it was on. I was just a kid then, more interested in watching the latest Michael Jackson or Nirvana video instead of “seven strangers picked to live in a house.” The youngest cast member, Julie Gentry, was 19 at the time. That seemed eons away from my life as a fourth-grader. 10/10 could not relate.
Thirty years and a pandemic later, I found myself watching the entire season on Paramount Plus. I relived the O.G. cast living at 565 Broadway, years before I even thought about applying to NYU and walked down the same streets. Now, I could relate to their conversations that went over my head as a kid: Dating, identity, and of course, race.
I can’t say how I would have reacted to seeing that scene play out in 1992. I didn’t have concrete experiences with race yet. All I remember at that age was being scared about my uncle going outside after the Rodney King beating.
Kevin Powell, one of the franchise’s first Black castmates, defended the Black experience in a conversation about politics with Rebecca Blasband. As he tried to explain that the deck was stacked higher against him as a Black man, Becky continued to dismiss him. As the debate got more heated, he called her a racist. And a moment in which he became labeled “the angry Black man” was born.
I can’t say how I would have reacted to seeing that scene play out in 1992. I didn’t have concrete experiences with race yet. All I remember at that age was being scared about my uncle going outside after the Rodney King beating. But now, after having conversations about race time and time again, seeing the eye rolls when I’ve struck a nerve, when someone accuses me of pulling “the race card,” I completely get what Kevin meant. As young Black people repeatedly see in our lives, the…