Dear Culture

Is Martha’s Vineyard Giving Exclusive or Exclusion?

Episode 72
Play

Lawyer, queer civil rights advocate, and reality TV star Preston Mitchum is unapologetically Black, and we’re here for it! Mitchum is a fan favorite on Bravo’s Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard, and he dishes about his reality TV experience, which includes the responsibility he feels to represent the Black community positively. The Ohio native also discusses the allure and exclusivity he and his friends found on Martha’s Vineyard. While their adventures on the island make great TV, is Massachusetts’ vacation oasis a place where outsiders can feel comfortable?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Preston Mitchum speaks on stage during CultureCon NY 2023 on October 08, 2023. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

READ FULL TRANSCRIPT:

Panama Jackson: [00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified.

Preston Mitchum: As much as possible, people really want to keep it secret and, and, and sacred. Um, I also really struggle with that sometimes too, because I think in our keeping things sacred and secret we’re actually keeping out Black folks who we don’t want there.

Panama Jackson: What’s going on, everybody? Welcome to Dear Culture, the podcast for, by, and about the culture here at theGrio Black Podcast Network. I’m your host, Panama Jackson. And today we have a conversation for you about reality TV. See, a good friend of mine who lives here in Washington, D. C., is on a reality show that I love, that I enjoy.

But for… Not the typical reasons, it’s not because I saw people throwing glasses across tables and stuff, though there were a couple scenes in the first season where that seemed like it was on the table, but partially because of the location and who was being filmed.

Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard: Welcome to Martha’s Vineyard. To Martha! If you don’t know, Black [00:01:00] Excellence is Martha’s Vineyard and Martha’s Vineyard is Black Excellence.

Panama Jackson: It brought up a whole bunch of questions and interests that I had about His time on the show and just the environment around which was being filmed. My guest today is Preston Mitchum, who is an unapologetically Black queer civil rights advocate.

Preston Mitchum: We know good and damn well how many Black, queer, trans and non binary families are killed, are violated, are brutalized every single day.

Panama Jackson: An attorney. A public speaker, writer, professor from the O. H. and the Dime from Ohio. But first off, you know, how you doing? Welcome to Dear Culture. How you doing today, bro?

Preston Mitchum: I am good today. It is a sunny day in D. C., so the day can’t get any better. Other than talking to you, of course.

Panama Jackson: And I appreciate that. That’s why you the homie. Um… And the reason we’re talking today is because you are a cast member of Summer House, Martha’s Vineyard, which is on Bravo. Uh, one season has aired thus far, and there’s, I believe, a [00:02:00] second season has wrapped shooting.

Is that correct?

Preston Mitchum: The second season has wrapped, so we’ll premiere the second season around March, and so viewers can definitely get ready for another season.

Panama Jackson: All right. I love the show. Uh, I started watching it because you were on it because I know you and it’s kind of cool to say I know somebody on a TV show, but while I was watching it, I also became very interested in it because of where it was filmed, which is Oak Bluffs and Martha’s Vineyard, which I’ve been to.

But we’re going to get to that part because I have a lot of questions about that. But let’s start at the let’s start at the top. So, for people who don’t know, what is Summer House Martha’s Vineyard and how did you end up on the show?

Preston Mitchum: So, Summer House Martha’s Vineyard, of course, really follows a group of friends, Black professionals, uh, I use professionals loosely sometimes, but, but Black folks, Black friends, Black people, um, who are just, like, visiting Oak Bluffs or even Eggertown nearby, Oak Bluffs and, um, and Martha’s Vineyard, or on the island itself.

It’s interesting because a lot of us knew each other. [00:03:00] So I’m on the show, obviously, with my line brother. I was in, uh, my line brother’s and his wife’s wedding. A lot of us have been to the vineyard together. Not everyone, but a good amount of us have been to the vineyard actually together. Uh, and it really kind of happened on the vineyard.

Um, you know, one of my, the closest person I am on the show, Jordan. Uh, she, we were together. She posted a picture of us, of all of us on the show. Actually, after we were on the venue, we were going to an all white party because Black folks love white and linen. And so, we were going to an all white party, and someone reached out to us.

And was like, listen, we’re kind of doing some, like, thoughts around this show. Would y’all be interested? Which was a shock to us. We were like, we’re just actually getting dressed to go to a party. And that turned into us meeting producers, turned into meeting people at the network, which turned into a show.

Panama Jackson: Interesting. So I really had no clue how this show came to be. So it’s really interesting that people saw you all and thought maybe there’s a show here. This is a group of friends. There’s a [00:04:00] connection for everybody. Worked out. Um, So you said you go visit. How often do you visit Martha’s Vineyard? Is this an annual thing for you?

Did that, when did, and when did that start?

Preston Mitchum: So it’s funny. So I started visiting the vineyard having maybe 2014, 2015. At that point, I started to go every year or every other year. Um, but what’s interesting about this is, listen, I’m from Ohio, born and raised, and I don’t think I knew about the Vineyard ever until I moved to D. C. Like, never heard of it, couldn’t tell you anything about it, and so it became a particular class of individuals, I think, who had access to the space and by access, I just might even hearing about it, right? Because I know people who are lawyers, doctors from other places who never heard of a vineyard and clearly were like more privileged educationally at least.

Um, so I think D.C really exposed my eyes to a lot of different places and the vineyard was one of them because the first time I went was with a group of friends from DC.

Panama Jackson: You know, it’s funny that you bring it up because I was going to ask you when you’d first [00:05:00] heard of Martha’s Vineyard because I heard about it in college, I went to Morehouse College, and I was exposed to a bunch of people who had experiences that I didn’t even know were experiences that we could have, right, like, we weren’t broke, but I didn’t, I, I saw what Black richness looked like when I got to Morehouse, right, so, I picked up the book, Our Kind of People, by, uh, Lawrence Otis Graham, and Martha’s Vineyard was mentioned in there, and I was like, what is this Martha’s Vineyard, blah, blah, blah, and I remember seeing the movie The Inkwell, But I don’t think I’d put two and two together.

It was not a great movie. It wasn’t even filmed at Martha’s Vineyard. Uh, it’s filmed in North Carolina, but I don’t think that I completely put two and two together and all that stuff, but I didn’t, I had no relationship with Martha’s Vineyard whatsoever, especially as part of like Black elite society until I got to college.

And then the first time I went, I think it was in 2018. That’s my first time experiencing Martha’s Vengeance, like, oh, this is, this is a thing. You know, I’m walking around with the homies, like, oh, we, we the realest dudes on the island right now, because all of us have come from, like, the hood. You know, this is, uh, [00:06:00] we real.

We the real ones out here right now. Um.

Preston Mitchum: Yeah, I remember thinking I made it. When I went to the vineyard for the first time, I’m like, I still only got a little bit of money in my pocket, but I’m here, and I’m here with folks who I know got a lot of money in their pocket, some generational wealth, and me and my friends are just trying to struggle through a good weekend together, which, you know, it was a great time, ultimately, though.

Panama Jackson: I think most of us who have any relationship with Martha’s Vineyard kind of view it as, especially in August when, you know, a lot of Black people of, of means tend to descend upon the island. There’s every HBCU, well all the, not every HBCU, but lots of HBCUs have their gatherings and, you know, there’s, it’s like a, it’s a community that if you don’t know exists, you might not know exists, but that’s changing.

And, you know, I kind of wonder, so for instance, this year, I felt like I’ve never seen so much promotion for events on Martha’s Vineyard in my life. Like I have my Instagram feed was full of this party’s going on. This activation is going on. [00:07:00] This is like, it’s like it turned into Miami and I kind of wonder, you know, in your experience, you’ve been going for roughly almost 10 years now in some capacity.

How has the experience on Martha’s Vineyard changed for you personally since the first time you went to recently? Because I know you were there recently while, I think, filming.

Preston Mitchum: Right. So I have so many answers to this question, so I’m trying to like, reduce it. So, it’s, it’s interesting. I think people have every right to protect a place like Martha’s Vineyard, right?

In many ways, it’s an oasis unto itself. So, as much as possible, people really want to keep it secret and, and, and sacred.

Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard: Every summer, I live for the vineyard. It is 10 times more exclusive than a Hampton. You have to get there by plane, boat or helicopter.

Preston Mitchum: I also really struggle with that sometimes too, because I think in our keeping things sacred and secret, we’re actually keeping out Black folks who we don’t want there. [00:08:00] Um, and not like other communities of non Black people, right? I mean, to call a thing a thing, we’re trying to keep out largely poor Black folks, right? And folks who don’t really have the level of formal education that maybe you or I have.

I think, I think, and I think that’s what becomes frustrating, right? And so, for me… I knew the show would be criticized in some respect because it’s on the vineyard. Many people never heard of it. They didn’t want people to hear about it. Um, and so in some ways, especially before the show came out, it was, it got a decent amount of pushback.

Much of what I, much of which I understood, right, particularly as someone who went to the Vineyard already many times before that point. I think on the flip side, um, you know, the struggle that I always had in the space that I wanted to leave with, particularly natives from the Vineyard and folks who have went for generations at this point, you know, I had a lot of conversations with them.

And they were really open to having this dialogue around like who are we keeping out, [00:09:00] what are we doing, what is really the issue actually with having people visit the place that you call home that you love. Um, especially if they’re respecting the place that they’re entering into. And so, you know, we got into a really great conversation about it.

So I will say season one filming was interesting because I had already went to the vineyard that summer before we even started filming. And so, you know, we were still supposed to be closed lips though, right? So I couldn’t share what we were doing or anything. So when I came back, it kind of felt weird because I couldn’t experience it in the same way, right?

Like production is around, cameras are around, you just can’t experience it the same way. Same thing for when we went this past summer, right? What I will say though is, we received a lot of love this past summer when we were filming for the upcoming season. And I think it’s because people for the most part saw that we were respecting the vineyard.

They saw that we weren’t just trying to get drunk and fight and throw bottles. We were genuinely trying to Like, yeah, you have your arguments with your friends, you throw shade and be petty, but at the end of [00:10:00] the day, it’s all around like Blackness and love of Black people and friends and family and what that means, the good, bad, and ugly.

Um, but I will say that I really, I don’t know if my experience on the vineyard will ever be the same again, because to your point though, you’re right, I saw so many events going on the vineyard this year, and I was like, I know this can’t be from our show, but it could be, like I, you know, you just never know why people suddenly are inspired by it.

Or when I go to it, but every week, probably I get a comment either on social media or in person from people who come to me being like, I’ve never heard of the vineyard and it actually looks like a good place and I’m like, yeah, but don’t go there trying to turn up like go there respect the place be chill. But I think people are really interested in something that they thought was once not possible

Panama Jackson: Time for a quick break.

Stay with us

Toure: I’m Toure. Join us for crazy true stories about stars who I really hung out with

like Snoop, Jay Z, [00:11:00] Prince, Kanye and the time I got kidnapped by Suge Knight. Don’t miss my animated series, Star Stories with Toure from theGrio Black Podcast Network.

Panama Jackson: And we’re back. It’s interesting because I started reading comments about people who were watching the show, right? And it definitely cut right down the middle. Some people were absolutely just like, these people are out here, um, embarrassing the community, embarrassing us, making Martha’s Vineyard look… look bad. And this is probably mostly Oak Bluffs. I don’t, were you all in Edgartown or was the house in Edgartown or was the house in Oak Bluff?

Preston Mitchum: That’s what’s funny about it. Right. So those comments I read and I kind of, I don’t wanna dismiss them, but I kind of chuckled because I’m like, most of the time we were in the house so it’s like–

Panama Jackson: That’s where I was gonna go. Keep going , but keep going.

Preston Mitchum: But the first, but last year we were in Edgartown. This year we were in Oak Bluffs.

Panama Jackson: I didn’t [00:12:00] feel in any way, shape, or form that you all were making the island look bad, or making yourselves look bad, or, you know, putting some veneer, like, of just ignorant people, ignorant Black folks showing up to do the reality thing that we think of.

I just thought, I thought it was really well done. But it does beg the question, while you were filming, while people are seeing this, because I know Martha’s Vineyard is very… picky about who they let film on the island. I mean, very few shows have filmed there. I know Spike filmed some part of the She’s Gotta Have It show there.

I know Jaws filmed there back in the 70s or whatever, like, but there’s not a lot on Martha’s Vineyard that gets filmed and then you all get access as a reality show. So what was it like for people seeing you all being filmed? Like, did you catch people like, what’s going on here? Like, what was that experience like?

Preston Mitchum: Everyone. I think we were all, well, so first to your original point, I wouldn’t want to be part of something that is embarrassing, you know what I mean? And everyone’s [00:13:00] level of embarrassment is different for sure, like what you can take in. You know how it happens when you share a house?

Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard: Watch your tone! You watch your line! Watch your tone! Personalities blend or don’t.

Preston Mitchum: Um, and of course, like, you know, last year definitely didn’t get any arguments. I don’t know if I can say the same this year because some people will piss you off sometimes, but, but at the end of the day though, I think you, like, we all thought about that.

I’m not even, like, we all were very hyper aware of our environment and what the role we were playing, unlike respectfully, unlike many other reality shows, I think we were very sensitive to where we were. And so I think some of us may gotten a little disheartened when we would read comments like that, because it’s like, well, we may as well just been throwing bottles.

Even our intention behind not doing that still gets railroaded as doing that. Why not just do it then? So, you know, that’s one thing. We were very intentional about who we wanted to portray and how we wanted to be. [00:14:00] Um, because I know what I want my name attached to and what I don’t want it attached to.

That being said though, we always get looks all the time. And I think people got a lot more comfortable with us being there this season because they already knew we were doing there. Um, unless they were visiting, right. They may not have known if they were visiting. But for the most part, we got a lot of love, and I think even some of us were a little shocked by it.

Panama Jackson: A lot of people view this as their tiny, special place that’s exclusive, right? And this is a place that they can be in, and even the people who were like, um, who live on the island, you know, year round who are very much like, this is my spot. I don’t want this to all, I don’t want this to become Miami, right?

I like it the way that it with a specific kind of people here, um, who are viewed in this certain Black excellence type of thing, which is, as you probably know where I’m about to go with this, um, you know, you made this comment about not loving the term Black excellence. Can you speak a little [00:15:00] bit about that?

Preston Mitchum: So I actually really hate the term because it means nothing. Like if you say it so much and it starts to just mean nothing. Uh, and I kind of laugh about it because the first time, first of all, it was, it was said on episode one, like 20 times and I’m like, y’all, we get it, like, we excellent. Um, but we said it one time before we started to take a shot.

Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard: Black excellence.

Preston Mitchum: And I’m like, what? Like, I, like now I’m confused about what we actually are saying. So every time I started to like Google or put on Twitter Black excellence. It was always the same story that came up, right? It was someone who was multi hyphenate. Multiple degrees, curing a disease. I mean, you have to practically win an Olympic gold medal, right? To be considered excellent. And I was like, I see people every day who are excellent and dope and are doing [00:16:00] amazing things that don’t have degrees that don’t have wealth or access to wealth. And. I think they’re excellent. And where do they get, they get lost in all of this. Um, you know, I started to think about, like, my family members.

Like, right, only two people in my family have degrees, right? Me and my oldest sister. And so it’s like, you know, the vast majority of my family are very much under the federal poverty line. And so it’s just like, What are they? They’re just nothing. They just Black. They Black blank. And it just started to dishearten me because it just started to not make sense.

And I started to also reflect on this quote by bell hooks and she said, if feminism means everything it can mean nothing. And so I started to really think about how much people say Black excellence about everything. And I’m like, it means nothing after a while. Like, you’re just saying it even though we know what you’re trying to say.

Um, and I just wish we became more inclusive with like our definitions or even like naming conventions of things like, and I [00:17:00] actually don’t think we mean excellence. Like, I, I think we’re trying to compare that to like, frankly, whiteness and societal things of excellence. And it just starts to make me feel incredibly uncomfortable, even though based on those definitions, I would fit in there, right?

But it just does not feel honest and it doesn’t feel like. It doesn’t feel like it’s actually inclusive of like the vast majority of Black people.

Panama Jackson: Fair enough. All right, we’re going to take a quick break here at Dear Culture and come back and talk more about, uh, Summer House Martha’s Vineyard with Preston Mitchum.

theGrio Daily: Y’all come look at what Michael Harriot just posted. Black Twitter, come get your man. It’s his podcast episodes for me. I was today years old when I found out Michael Harriot had a podcast. Subscribed.

I’m world famous wypipologist Michael Harriot, and this is theGrio Daily. That’s right. The Black Twitter King has a podcast.

theGrio Daily with Michael Harriot every Monday, [00:18:00] Wednesday, and Friday on theGrio Black Podcast Network and accessible wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

Panama Jackson: Aright we’re back here on Dear Culture talking to Preston Mitchum, who is a cast member on Summer House Martha’s Vineyard, a show on Bravo that was set in Martha’s Vineyard.

And, you know, I have a question for you. Has being on a reality show changed your perception about reality shows in general? Like how you view them or like… You know, just in general.

Preston Mitchum: Yes, a lot, actually. So I watch most reality shows. Um, I’ve tended to watch them for years at this point. Realistically, when I was younger, like Real World, Big Brother, etc.

But I don’t think I realized how much work it takes to be a talent on reality TV. Like, it is exhausting. And in some ways, I give a lot of them respect, a lot of us. Which is weird, I guess to say now the respect for even doing it. I mean, cause you, everyone loves to say, like, I would be good on reality TV.

And it’s like, you wouldn’t last a day. [00:19:00] Like it is, it is its own different beast. And so I think like, you know, between personality, like conflicts and figuring out where you fit in certain situations to think that sometimes you have to do more in situations to maybe you’re thinking you’re a little too boring.

Right. It just, all of it gets complicated, right? And then you naturally understand there’s editing attached to it. So you don’t really trust necessarily how stories may be told, right? You know, things can be taken out of context. So you have to relinquish a lot of control, um, to be on reality TV. And I know it’s the thing everyone thinks they can do.

I know it, but it’s just not true. And I know I genuinely deeply respect people who know… Who can relinquish enough control over themselves and know they’ll be okay. Right. Um, that, that takes a, I think that takes a lot of courage, honestly.

Panama Jackson: Yeah, no, I, I [00:20:00] actually agree with you. I think perspective is everything. Like, you know, you said it’s exhausting. What does it like, what does the day look like?

You wake up with a camera in your face or do you just know there’s cameras everywhere? So you got to be cognizant of everything that you’re doing or even though you’re trying to just live your life, like what is the day like? What does it feel like?

Preston Mitchum: Yeah, quite literally. So our show is a little different because we are a shared house show, which means that, you know, there are robo cams everywhere, right?

There are microphones everywhere. And in addition to there actually being camera crew, camera crews around. I mean, most of the time you can’t even interact with anyone else in the house until you get a mic on, right? So everything is content. That’s what you have to think about it. Like everything that you’re doing, every movement, every joke, every exercise. Anything is content. And so you just have to be hyper aware and at the same time, not care as much, right? So you have to know it’s there, but also not care enough to change who you are. Because one of the things that I think made me have a good first season is because I was genuinely myself every [00:21:00] day. Like I’m like, I, I’m aware what I want to wear. I’m gonna say what I’m like, I’m within reason, right? Say what I want to say. I am just going to be who I am. If I was just at home.

Panama Jackson: I did think you had a good first season. Like I looked at, I was like, yo, Preston came out looking great on the show, but I also wonder, and I guess I don’t know you well enough to know this, but you don’t seem like a problematic person in general.

Whereas I see that. Some people on the show didn’t have great first seasons, like, you can’t hide from yourself when you’re in a pressure cooker situation, and you saw it manifest differently, you know, and I, I don’t know these people, so I’m not trying to talk negatively necessarily, but So, you know, we, we saw Silas and Jasmine’s relationship kind of be rocky in the first season.

Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard: This marriage thing is hard. No one said it was easy. It’s everything in me is telling me to check out.

Panama Jackson: And in an interesting way, I know you mentioned Jordan’s probably one of the closest friends to you. It almost seemed like she was trying to hold us together and then she cracked at one point towards the end of the last season. Like she had like what seemed like a [00:22:00] breakdown that I was like, I don’t even know where this is coming from.

Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard: I just wish that somebody would give me the same respect I give everyone else!

Panama Jackson: This was like, I feel like this is what happens when you’re in this high pressure situation and you’re doing your best. Do you understand why people are like, I don’t, I think these portray us negatively, like from both people that are on them from people in the community who are like the reality shows make us all look bad, you know, all of that stuff like has, you know, you’re talking about your own personal relationship to being on a reality show but what about the bigger conversation about reality tv and how it makes us look as a community, so to speak?

Preston Mitchum: I love this question so much. Reality tv has so many beautiful things in it. If you’re, if you’re But you’ll miss it if you’re only trying to pay attention to the viral moments, right? Or if you’re only paying attention to, like, what Instagram shows you, or like, right, what these other outlets show you.

There have been so many examples that I give when I have these conversations lately, right? Like The Real World [00:23:00] was one of the first TV shows that talked about HIV and AIDS right from one of their cast members.

The Real World: I thought for a second of how can I go around and I said, no, you know, forget it. I’m HIV positive.

Preston Mitchum: You had an example of Love and Hip Hop when there was literally segments of abortions and abortion conversation on tv. You have other examples of reality tv that are literally discussing things like police brutality. You have other examples where they’re discussing things like sex and sex ed with their children, right?

But if all you’re taking from this is like salacious conversations and the things that you claim to hate but will then tweet or use as a meme, then that is probably part of the problem, right? And so I clearly admit as someone who watches reality TV that some of it is even too much for me, right? Like, with all due respect, you will never see me watching anything on the Zeus Network. Ever. Like, it is just too much. I don’t love TV shows.

Panama Jackson: No Jocelyn’s Cabaret for you, huh?

Preston Mitchum: Like, I just, I can’t [00:24:00] do it. Like, it’s, it’s, I just can’t do it. And I’m not even suggesting it’s not entertaining. I’m sure it is. But it’s just nothing I would enjoy, right? Or nothing I would get out of it, per se. Um, but it’s a space for people who love to watch it.

And I think, respectfully, they should have that space. I think it becomes a problem when that’s all people get on reality TV. It’s similar how I discussed my role as a, as an openly Black queer person on reality TV, which one of the few, certainly on a big network. The reality is, like, most Black LGBTQ people on reality TV, Black gay men especially, are seen as, like, caricatures on TV, right?

Very one dimensional, very, like, the accessory to their, to their woman best friend. And for me, that is real; a part of my community. That is a real thing. We have feminine men, we have masculine men, right? We have people in between. And the reality is all of it is fine if all of us could go [00:25:00] showcase, but usually unfortunately network showcase one particular type and then anyone else who wants to be on that show comes on as that particular type in order to be cast and in order to be seen, right?

I can’t be mad at it. But I do wish we had these multi dimensional representations in the same way that I do wish we had multi dimensional types of reality TV. But I don’t think reality TV in and of itself is causing anything negatively in the Black community. If anything, what we may have to reconcile with or reckon with is that what is actually showing is part of the things in the Black community, and it’s the things that we tend to ignore.

Panama Jackson: Yeah, everything you said was spot on. I agree 100%. I’ve had this conversation ad nauseam with people where, uh, even with some fairly luminary individuals where I didn’t realize that they carried respectability politics so heavy on the way that they view, like how we present in the community, because if anything, these are, this [00:26:00] is your family, right?

The problem, the problem you have is that your family might be a little bit hood or might act a little, might act out, act out a little bit too much for your liking. And it’s on television now. Like, I don’t think this makes the, this doesn’t ruin a community. It’s not making life more difficult for anybody.

In my perspective, I don’t think this is making it harder for me to get a job because folks are acting up in Atlanta. You know what I mean? But. So I don’t mind it. Like I just, you know, it’s, it’s reality TV to me. People are on TV. It’s content. Like you said, people are trying to make a name for themselves.

So they’re going forward with the opportunity handed to them. And the truth is this is how a lot of us do act good, bad, or ugly. You know what I mean? It’s, it’s like you said, it’s not all, it’s not all bad stuff either. Sometimes people are having real conversations, but you only care when somebody throws a glass across the room, you know what I mean?

So I think that’s a very fair representation.

Preston Mitchum: I have to say this and the reality is Black folks are scared of Black folks and I think we are not [00:27:00] conscious enough to be able to have that honest conversation, right? Like there are many Black people who are afraid of Black people and how they represent us.

And I think that is a shame. Like the reality is we, some of us don’t like our family, right? Some of us don’t like that version that other people will get to see that we’ll see on Christmas or Thanksgiving. But when it’s aired publicly, we’re embarrassed and we’re closing our eyes and are closing our ears.

But the reality is I know a lot of my family is hood. Right? And so it’s like maybe I’m not quote unquote hood, whatever that means, right? But at the end of the day It’s like I’m comfortable around them. I love them and we gonna have a good time, right? And I think some people just can’t take into account that That’s who they are, right?

That is a reality. TV is a microcosm of a lot of what we’re seeing in real life. And again, I think the bigger issue is that for many reality shows, that’s all they showcase. So I do agree that there needs to be again, multi dimensional representations of [00:28:00] all versions of us. But in the meantime, right, a lot of the people who are shading reality TV, let’s be clear, they watch it. They watch it all the time because that’s exactly how they know how much they hate it because they’re able to tell you specific scenes of why they hate it.

Panama Jackson: So does the final version of the show, like when you finally watch it and you see it and you know, cause I’m guessing like most shows you don’t even see the final cut till it all airs.

Does it? Accurately or faithfully or honestly portray the experience that you had at, um, in Martha’s Vineyard for the, for the filming, like in the experience you had with everybody?

Preston Mitchum: Most of the time. Yeah. Like, I don’t know how other people feel for their shows, but I will say for, for my experience on Summer House Martha’s Vineyard, it was pretty, pretty close.

Um, you know, and I think that was what was difficult when we were doing additional media interviews, because of course, let’s be clear, we have relationships in real life. So some people weren’t the happiest with other people when we were telling our truth [00:29:00] and our experiences in the house, but the reality is It was pretty close. Like there may be some things where I’m like, mmm, I don’t think that happened 100 percent that way but for the most part it was pretty on point.

Panama Jackson: That’s good to hear.

All right. We’re going to take one more break here. When we come back with Preston, we’re going to do some Blackfessions and Blackammendations here on Dear Culture.

Being Black – The 80s: The 80s gave us

unforgettable songs from Bob Marley, De La Soul, and public Enemy.

Being Black – the 80s is a podcast docuseries hosted by me, Toure looking at the most important issues of the 80s through the songs of the decade. I have another hit, the I don’t give a– A decade when crack kingpins controlled the streets but lost their humanity.

You couldn’t be like those soft, smiling, happy go lucky drug dealers. You had to suppress that. And I just feel so good today. It was a time when disco was [00:30:00] part of gay liberation. It provided the information to counter narratives that were given to gay people by the straight world. This is the funkiest history class you’ll ever take.

Join me, Toure, for Being Black – the 80s on theGrio Black Podcast Network or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Panama Jackson: All right, we’re back here on Dear Culture with my favorite segments of the show. I’m still here with Preston Mitchell. We’ve been talking Summer House, Martha’s Vineyard, um, getting some really interesting perspective about reality TV, all the kind of conversations I think we have amongst ourselves, but having an opportunity to do this on a, on, on, like, on a platform, and this is dope because you’ve been, you’ve been enlightening me. The last two things we do here at their culture.

We do a Blackfession and a Blackammendation, uh, Blackfession, can be a confession about your Blackness. Something people would be surprised to know about you because you’re Black. Now you’re from Youngstown originally and Dayton, two of the Blackest places in Ohio, in the world. You know, when I think of [00:31:00] Youngstown, I think of Maurice Clarett… violence and, uh, shouts out to Youngston, you know I’m joing about that. But you know Dayton is home of the funk, you know Dayton Ohio boy, that’s where we get all of this great music

You got Blackness all, all over the place. So what would be something, what would be something surprising to know about you because you’re Black and you from the OH and the dime and the Blackest part you could be from?

Preston Mitchum: Oh my God. So I love, sorry, I love green bean casserole.

I’m always so tickled about it because I really do. I don’t care what nobody’s saying.

Panama Jackson: Wow, I really that is not what I thought that I did. That’s not where I saw this going at all.

Preston Mitchum: You just got to go in. You just got to go for all of it.

Panama Jackson: Wow, you said casserole too. So you just do the whole just the whole the green bean the green bean casserole.

Okay, this is… somebody in particular make it that you [00:32:00] love like what’s not. You gotta, you gotta do some more explaining here.

Preston Mitchum: I don’t know the first time I was daring enough to try it. I really don’t. But I was like, I don’t mind casseroles and I like green beans, so let me try it together. And it was good.

I don’t, I don’t care. People who hate it, I promise you, they have not had it. If they have, they would at least know it’s not nasty.

Panama Jackson: You know, that might be a fair point because I can’t think of actually like I know my reaction immediately was one of disdain But I honestly can’t say that I’ve ever had great because I think I would because of the disdain in my heart I wouldn’t try to begin with which I’m not going to do but I think provided a different perspective.

So that’s really cool of you.

Preston Mitchum: When I share this with a close friend of mine, he was like Preston Mitchum like screaming I was like, I know how it sounds. I’m very Black power and all that but, you know, after a protest, I may enjoy one every once in a while.

Panama Jackson: Wow. Not after a protest. Okay. All right. [00:33:00] Well, we gotta do, we gotta, we gotta, we gotta bring this one. We got a 180 this one.. All right. To counter the Blackfession, we also do Blackammendations, which are recommendations about something, by, for and , about Black culture that you think other folks should be up on. Uh, you know, people have all manner of things that they want to promote or share ways that we need to interact with the community that we haven’t. Do you have a Blackammendation for us?

Preston Mitchum: I do. Oh my gosh. So I’m excited that I’ve entered into a partnership with Diversity Merch, uh, to launch my own merchandising line. Um, that really focuses on quotes and other things from Summer House Martha’s Vineyard, but also my own consulting company which I started oh my gosh a while ago at this point. It’s actually a little surprising, but this hat is actually a part of it says girl go to bed which is a line that I said to my cast member Shanice when she was drunk in the kitchen. So I’m really excited about this.

I also have a Black Excellence Will Not Save Us hat. Also have [00:34:00] mugs, coasters, anything you can think of at this point, uh, also designing a few other things. So that’s going to be my Blackammendation this time.

Panama Jackson: And where can you find that stuff?

Preston Mitchum: You can find it on my website, PrestonMitchum. com or diversity mark, merch.com backslash Preston hyphen Mitchum.

Panama Jackson: All right. Well, that’s amazing. First off, congratulations on having your own line of merch. That’s a big deal. That’s a something a lot of people would like to have, but not everybody has a reason to need to have it. Whereas it’s dope that you have a, both a reason to have this and are doing something with it.

So that’s, that’s amazing. Um, you know, so for one, let me say thank you for being here. We appreciate your time, obviously and, uh, for your perspective, because I think, I think it’s, we talk about reality show all the time and we talk about Martha’s Vineyard all the time. So you kind of meld both of those things together and providing a like first person account perspective on what it’s like to both be on a reality show, but one, in a place that I think a lot for a certain segment of Black people we hold with such reverence that I think we, [00:35:00] I don’t know if that’s changing or anything like I don’t know what I don’t know what the future of Martha’s Vineyard and Oak Bluffs hold in Egerton, all these, I don’t know what that holds for the Black community.

And I guess that’s probably what’s at the heart of these conversations, but I really do appreciate your perspective. on all of that. How can people find out more about you, find you if they want to interact, follow keep up with what’s going on with the show. Like where can people find Preston Mitchum?

Preston Mitchum: Yes, fam. I love being here so thank you so much for you and all of the work that you do. Most people can find me Preston Mitchum everywhere. Instagram is Preston dot Mitchum Twitter. I’m going to call it Twitter. Uh, Preston Mitchum. Um, and of course, I guess Threads now, which is again, Preston dot Mitchum. Uh, so those are the best ways or again, Preston Mitchum. com.

Panama Jackson: Sounds good. I gotta say, um, you know, even following you on Twitter and everything, you definitely are one of those speak truth to power people. Um, you know, you never seem to shy away from the thing that needs to be say, you say the quiet part out loud and, uh, you know, that’s always [00:36:00] appreciated. Uh, because everybody, everybody with something to lose or with opportunities like you have in the spaces you in isn’t willing to do that for fear of, you know, fumbling the bag as we like to say so, you know, I can appreciate that you you take stands and you stand firmly in though you stand 10 toes down on that stuff.

So, you know, keep that up. Obviously, I know you will, but just wanted to know people see it and it’s appreciated and I respect you for it.

Preston Mitchum: That means a lot. I also sometimes I’m fearful of that myself, but I think the truth is more important than that fear. So I appreciate that.

Panama Jackson: Fair enough. Well, uh, thank you for being here and to everybody listening.

Thank you for hanging with us here at Dear Culture, uh, where we have these very Black conversations about Black culture and, you know, sometimes we learn a little bit of something in the process. So thank you for being here. We appreciate you all.[00:37:00]

Writing Black: We started this podcast to talk about not just what Black writers write about, but how. Well, personally, it’s on my bucket list to have one of my books banned. I know that’s probably bad, but I think… They were yelling, n word, go home. And I was looking around for the n word because I knew it couldn’t be me because I was a queen.

But I’m telling people to quit this mentality of identifying ourselves by our work. To start to live our lives. And to redefine the whole concept of how we work and where we work and why we work in the first place.

My biggest strength throughout, throughout my career has been having incredible mentors and specifically Black women. I’ve been writing poetry since I was like eight. You know, I’ve been reading Langston Hughes and James Baldwin and Maya Angelou and so forth and so on since I was like a little kid. Like the [00:38:00] banjo was Blackly Black, right?

For many, many, many years everybody knew… because sometimes I’m just doing some — because I just want to do it. I honor to be here. Thank you for doing the work that you’re doing. Keep shining bright. And we, and like you said, we’re going to keep writing

Black. As always, you can find us on theGrio app or wherever you find your podcasts.