Tensions are formulaically rising in the America’s Next Top Model house as everyone battles it out to determine who gets to play the biggest badass role on the show. On Monday night’s otherwise boring episode—the second in the Vh1 reboot—the models engaged in a muddled argument about Black Lives Matter and the origins of black people in America.
The highlight of the clip above, which happens after a runway walk challenge taught by model Stacey McKenzie, is model Paige’s faux impassioned attempt to show how much she cares about black lives by saying she cares about black lives. “I wanna know more. I wanna ask questions,” says Paige, without asking any questions. “I wanna be a better person. I wanna take the privilege that I was born into and use it to help people. Like, black lives do matter. And they matter to me.” Sounds like it.
Giah responds, “You’re the person that I’ve been trying to prove to my friends that white people are good,” which is exactly what Paige wants to hear. From there, the discussion begins to dissolve after Binta, a model born in Africa, jumps in to explain her worldview on Black Lives Matter and it turns into a clash between her and Giah. “You come from Africa!” Benta yells. “We do not know who we are. That’s why we’re ‘African American,’” Giah tries to reason.
Unfortunately, because it’s hard to distill broad conversations about blackness into an intelligible scene for reality television, this sounds like a generic argument, when it’s really an important discussion for young people to be having on reality TV. Like, if this debate was better paced and shot in the style of The Real World in the ’90s instead of a Rita Ora-hosted Top Model reboot, the convo would be much more explicit and enlightening, with a touch of ignorance. In this case, it’s hard to parse the points here. Binta is misguided about black Americans having little grasp of their origins and Giah can’t quite articulate it.
Anyway, the real winner of this scene is Paige, who looks amazingly befuddled the whole time. “I didn’t instigate it, but I did bring up a hot-button issue, Black Lives Matter,” she says. “It escalated. I’m gonna be flat-out honest and say that Binta scares the [bleep] out of me.”