After a bit of a rough outing on Bad Blood (he wound up in a blowup argument with Robbie just days after moving in), Mike managed to find his footing in Seattle, and his housemates eventually grew to adore him. But Mike’s progress hit a brick wall when fellow cast members began to grow wary of the conversational liberties he took with his black housemates. Mike routinely used the N-word without much thought, and while Theo and Kassius both cut him some slack because they felt sure Mike wasn’t sincerely racist, they admitted hearing the word come from a white man made them uncomfortable. Typically, they both admitted, hearing a white man use the term was grounds for dismissal.
But the house couldn’t turn a blind eye to one particularly troubling conversation Mike had with Jordan one night while walking to the bar. While arm-in-arm with Jordan, Mike made a comment about Jordan’s “bangs,” and when she insisted black men loved her baby hairs (she made sure to correct his hair label), he attempted a joke: that Jordan and her dates of color could bond while rubbing coconut oil on each other’s “ashy skin.” Needless to say, Jordan didn’t take kindly to the remark, and though she and Mike had effectively become a couple, she suddenly felt distant from him and sought advice and perspective from her fellow housemates of color.
“I know that’s not how he actually feels, but that doesn’t make it okay,” Jordan said. And her longtime frienemy Orlana echoed the sentiment.
“People are forgetting that the N-word is not just slang,” Orlana insisted. “It’s a derogatory term.”
Sensing his fellow housemates were upset, Mike receded into a funk while out (he went as far as to punch a bathroom wall while peeing), and when the group finally returned to the house, Mike cut his losses, packed up his stuff and moved out. There was no correcting his actions, he said, and he argued that if he stayed, he’d just be inviting a racist label.
“I feel really ignorant. I feel really stupid. So at this point, I just wanna get out,” he said.
Kassius, who’d only heard about pieces of Mike’s conversation with Jordan, urged Mike to stay — that is, until he got the full story. At that point, Kassius said he was glad Mike left.
“You can’t say you’re not racist and them say some sh*t like that,” he said. “You’re disrespecting more than half of the cast.”
Still, Theo remained convinced Mike was good at heart and should have stuck things out to reach some sort of resolution.
“I really don’t think Mike is racist -- I don’t get a racist vibe from him at all,” he said.
Finally, Robbie pointed out that without attempting to explain his behavior, Mike was actually implicitly vilifying himself.
“If he leaves, it’s just kind of like: 'This is what we know, and this is what we’re gonna believe' — he never really stood here to tell us what really happened,” he said.
What do you think — was it smart of Mike to cut his losses and depart when he did, or did he do himself and his housemates a disservice by leaving, and did he owe them an explanation? Share your thoughts and tune in to a brand-new Real World next Wednesday at 10/9c.