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‘Below Deck’ Chief Stew Heather Chase Used a Racial Slur — We Need to Talk About It

Heather Chase

Below Deck season 9 was a wild ride, from Jake Fougler’s love square to Jessica Albert leaving the crew short-handed in the middle of the charter season. But the situation that stirred up the most conversation had to be Rayna Lindsey and Heather Chase’s ongoing feud, shadowed by unsettling racial undertones. It’s a situation that’s far more common than one would think, stirring up an emotional response by fans some in defense of Rayna, some siding with Heather and others feeling that both were wrong in how they handled it.

There’s no doubt it was an emotionally-charged and layered situation. Let’s take a deeper look at what happened, what the rest of the cast had to say and what happened after the cameras stopped rolling.

What happened between Rayna Lindsey and Heather Chase?

While the crew were out for a night of fun, deckhand Rayna Lindsey and chief stew Heather Chase escaped to the washroom. On their way back to the group, Lindsey, who is Black, said the N-word and Chase, who is white, repeated it. From then on, Lindsey’s mood became sombre as she thought about what was said. Later that night, as Chase was laughing and rapping lyrics in the galley, Lindsey politely confronted her on the use of the word, telling her she shouldn’t be using it and warning her about cancel culture. Heather said she didn’t recall using the word, even though the whole scene was caught on camera.

Heather eventually admitted to what she said and apologized

As time went on, Lindsey became increasingly irritated with Chase, which seemed to bother the chief stew. Chase went on to tell one of her co-stars that Lindsey’s confrontation “made her feel bad,” complaining about Lindsey’s sour attitude toward her. Eventually Chase had a one-on-one conversation with Lindsey where she apologized, which was accepted as the two hugged it out. But, the deckhand couldn’t shake her growing dislike for Chase, continuing to give her the cold shoulder throughout the rest of the season. In the season finale, Chase got down on her knees begging for forgiveness from Lindsey, to which she dismissed her saying that she doesn’t like white women who say that word.

See also: ‘The Real Housewives of Miami’: then and now.


There are a lot of opinions on Rayna and Heather’s feud

Let’s be clear, Heather was dead wrong for using that word. It doesn’t matter the context or the drunken situation. Many fans of the show have called out Rayna for using the word first, and in this dissection of something as light as reality TV, we’re not going to go into the complexities around Black people reclaiming the word after years of it being weaponized against them. In any case, if someone uses an offensive word, why would you think it’s okay to repeat it? When anyone uses that word, it can be triggering for a Black person to hear, but it cuts deep when a white person does, because of the word’s origins.

Rayna’s feelings are valid, but there’s a plethora of opinions on how she handled it.

I can’t speak for Rayna, but as a Black woman, I can guess that she can’t truly forgive Heather because she doesn’t trust her anymore. The ease in which she used the word is a tell that she has probably used it before and would continue using it if she wasn’t confronted.

Rayna addressed the situation herself in an Instagram Q&A. “It’s like watching a car crash over and over again,” the deckhand wrote to explain her discomfort. “Like I said, she said that s–t regularly.” Did Rayna owe Heather forgiveness after an apology? No, but I think she should have been straight up and said how she felt instead of giving Heather the impression that everything was okay. Aside from being on the show, Rayna was also on the job, and just like Heather, has to uphold a certain degree of professionalism. Her suppressed feelings built up over time and started to affect her work, which first officer Eddie Lucas did address. Let’s dig into that.

Related: What to watch on Slice this February 2022.


Eddie Lucas suggested that Captain Lee fire Heather Chase

One of Rayna’s problems with first officer Eddie Lucas was how she felt he brushed her concerns under the rug when she spoke to him about it. Even though this is a TV show, this is a common feeling for women of colour who go to their superiors with their complaints about racism or microaggressions at work. More often than not, they don’t say anything at all. After the show aired, Lucas wanted to set the record straight on how he handled the situation.

“The conversation was probably about a half-hour long in real life,” he recalled in a YourEncore virtual fan event. “And if you recall in the conversation that they did show, I did say ‘That’s not OK.’ You know, if I heard that I would have said something. You need to say something and make sure that this is dealt with properly.” He even goes on to say that he suggested Rayna speak with Captain Lee about it, but she insisted she handle it on her own. But, as time went on, Lucas could tell Rayna was having a difficult time at work because of the incident. “As time goes by, I do have conversations with Captain Lee about it. I did recommend to Captain Lee to fire Heather. And if that makes it on the show – I don’t know,” he says.

See also: Mary Cosby quits ‘The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.’

Rayna battles with Wes over his Blackness

Here’s where I have to call Rayna out. In the season finale blow-up where Heather gets on her knees to apologize, Wes suggested that Rayna take the apology and walk away from the situation. Rayna fires back at Wes, accusing him of not being Black. That’s an incredibly hurtful thing to say — Wes is very clearly a Black man, and though he’s biracial, Wes faces prejudice and discrimination, too, especially in the yachting industry. She has no right to try to strip another Black person’s identity from them just because they don’t see eye-to-eye on a racial issue.

You might also like: The history behind iconic Black hairstyles.


My final thoughts

Though I may not agree with how the situation was handled, I think Rayna was brave for speaking up. It’s not an easy thing to do, especially knowing that a confrontation would change the atmosphere on the boat and make people uncomfortable. I even applaud her for not letting Heather off of the hook easily. Some fans felt sorry for Heather, but she did what she did and she was wrong. Whether or not her apology was accepted, I’m sure she learned a lesson and hopefully won’t say that word again.

Related: Here’s how much the ‘Below Deck’ cast actually makes.

Catch up on Below Deck and stream all your favourite Slice shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app.


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