Below Deck Stars Speak Out After On-Screen Dispute Over Racial Slur

cast photos heather and rayna
(Image credit: Bravo)

Season 9 of Below Deck has been, for the most part, typical Bravo fare. Captain Lee is grumpy, some of the crew are relatively “green” to yachting, and there's been a number of interesting boatmances. (Spoiler alert, one boatmance in particular doesn't have much of a future.) But the tone of the show got considerably more serious recently after an on-screen dispute took place between Heather Chase and Rayna Lindsey over the use of a racial slur. Now the two co-stars are speaking out publicly in the wake of the controversy.

The dispute in question occurred during the December 11 episode of Below Deck. While out for dinner on a crew night off, chief stewardess Heather Chase was caught on her mic mimicking Rayna Lindsey by saying, “That n---.” Later, on the boat, Lindsey explained to Chase that she shouldn't use that language, especially on national television. Chase denied that she used the slur at the time and lamented to her roommate that Lindsey made her “feel bad.”

Rayna Lindsey, one of the franchise’s relatively few Black castmates, voiced her dismay about the situation to co-star Fraser Olender in the episode, who in turn suggested that she go to her boss, Eddie Lucas. However, Lucas advised that she shouldn't take it “personally." Some Bravo fans echoed Lindsey’s disappointment online about the lack of attention given to what happened. In response to the controversy, Heather Chase issued a formal apology on her Instagram and explained how she “fell short.” See below:

Following Heather Chase’s statement, Rayna Lindsey shared on her own Instagram stories that the whole situation “really sucks” and that it hurt her feelings to not be validated in the moment. She blasted not only some of her coworkers for not speaking up in her defense but for Captain Lee also “never” sticking up for her. In fact, in response to a fan talking about the franchise-favorite captain, the deckhand teased to “wait till the end…sad.”

The Below Deck star continued that she is still on good terms with a few castmates (Jake Foulger, Fraser Olender, Jessica Albert and Rachel Hargrove included). But she explained that she spoke out about Heather Chase’s use of the N-word because she doesn't “take racism lightly.” Rayna Lindsey also stated,

I battled a lot with trying not to get upset and give the ‘angry black woman’ narrative. I also thought [Heather Chase] had said it again in the crew mess so I was like alright time to address this.

In the previous week’s episode, Rayna Lindsey had a heart-to-heart with co-star Wes O’Dell about her experience as a Black woman in America. She even reports she was once beaten up and maced by cops, as well as says she was attacked by three white men in an elevator at one point. Those revelations inevitably made the recent slur situation also stand out. 

Judging from what Rayna Lindsey is saying, though, it would seem that Heather Chase’s use of a slur may get addressed further in Season 9. To see how the situation unfolds, tune into Bravo on Mondays at 9 p.m. EST.

Lauren Vanderveen
Movies and TV News Writer

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.