Big Brother 15 will forever be known as the racist season of Big Brother. Now, it’s hardly the first or the last season to feature houseguests using racial, homophobic or misogynistic slurs in the house, but it was one of the most egregious and certainly the one that got the most attention outside of the house.
And the heat hasn’t died down seven years later. In a recent Instagram post, BB15 contestant Jessie Kowalski took some heat from a fan — for something she wasn’t even a part of on the show in 2013. She defended herself in the comments, something that caught the eye of fellow Big Brother 15 houseguest Aaryn Gries, and a war of words happened over text messages between the housemates.
A Fan Accused Kowalski of Being Racist
In a post on September 17, 2020, Jessie posted a photo of herself with her mom, simply captioned, “Love you.”
A commenter immediately jumped in and said, “Oh looks like ‘the black is coming out of you’ …… your family is brown and u had the nerve to say that to Candace. Nope we havent forgot. Those racist remarks will forever be apart of you [middle finger emoji] #BlackLivesMatter.”
What he is referring to is when Aaryn Gries trashed castmate Candace Stewart’s stuff by flipping her bed on the floor. During the ensuing fight, Kaitlin Barnaby said of Stewart, “Gonna see the black girl come out of you!” and Gries said, “I wouldn’t get in your bed anyway with all them crabs.”
Then later, GinaMarie Zimmerman got involved and yelled, “You want the black to come out?! You want the whites this way and the blacks this way?”
It was very, very ugly. That entire season had a lot of very ugly scenes like this.
Kowalski defended herself in the Instagram comments by writing, “I never made racist remarks about Candace. Get your facts straight.” Indeed, Kowalski was not one of the houseguests who was being racist that season — Gries, Zimmerman and Barnaby were the main perpetrators. And Kowalski is friends with Stewart outside of the house. They were just hanging out on Zoom the other day with fellow BB15 houseguest Helen Kim.
However, in the Instagram post, a man named Mike corrected the original commenter by saying, “That was Aaryn Gries, not Jessie … you should probably get your facts straight before posting, it’s pretty easy to check,” and Kowalski thanked him for his comment.
But Mike should also have checked his facts. The “black is coming out of you” comment was not Gries. It was Barnaby and Zimmerman.
Now, that’s not to say Gries didn’t do a whole host of other things that season that were racist. But in this particular instance, it wasn’t her.
Gries Texted Kowalski to Lay Into Her
In a screenshot of a series of text messages that Kowalski posted to Twitter, Gries wrote, “It might be funny to you, but it’s not funny to me. If you’re going to tell people to get their facts straight, you should do the same.”
Kowalski replied, “F*** off, Aaryn,” to which Gries responded, “You are the one who has tried to keep in contact with me through the years. Don’t be such a fake b**** and you won’t have to tell people to f*** off.”
Kowalski then wrote back, “I haven’t talked to you since I sent you a wedding present. Which I never got a thank you card for. We don’t even have a text thread going. This isn’t funny to me when I’m being accused of being racist because of you and GinaMarie’s actions. Our season goes down in history as a racist season and I don’t want to be associated with that, so I’m not going to apologize for sticking up for myself. You know what, I’m going to apologize for saying ‘f*** off’ right away, but you don’t know what it’s like to not have said racist things but still be accused of it. It literally broke my heart.”
Incidentally, both Zimmerman and Gries faced backlash at their jobs after their evictions from the show. But that has not stopped future cast members from saying all kinds of ugly things on the live feeds, so before Big Brother 22, the returning all-stars had to undergo racial bias and sexual harassment training.
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