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Hall of Shame Moment: Clarence Black Spilled the Beans

by Jeffrey Clinard -- 10/29/2002
Clarence Black may have made it until the merge in Survivor: Africa, but really, his excommunication had been assured within the first three days. By stealing food while the rest of the tribe was out getting water, Clarence assured himself a quick exit when he was no longer needed. And he also assured himself a Hall of Shame Moment.

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Poor Clarence, he didn't last three days in Africa before he got his walking papers. Sure it was delayed until the tribe merged, but his actions in the first few days almost guaranteed his eventual exile from Survivor. So what made him so valuable, yet so expendable? What made him the classic case of "use him then lose him"?

Simply put, he was guilty of a high crime on Survivor: stealing food from the tribe. While the rest of the tribe was off getting water, Clarence stayed back at camp with a sick Diane. It seemed like a noble enough thing to do. But then he made a choice that would haunt him for the rest of the game; it was a decision from which he never recovered: He opened up a can of beans to feed Diane, then ate the rest himself. To make matters worse, he then tried to hide the evidence – and wasn’t very good at it. Needless to say, the rest of the tribe was not happy with this decision. Food is a tribal resource, and requires a group decision on how to use it. His position was certainly not helped by the fact that he also had snagged additional cherries when the canned fruit was passed around so each person could take one. Two instances of sneaking food within the first three days? Not smart – not smart at all.

The tribe, led by Tom, launched in at Clarence. Clarence tried to defend himself, saying, “I got her something to eat and we split it while you were gone, just so she could feel better. It ain't no big deal.” But it most certainly was a big deal.

Clarence violated all trust with his actions, and picked up sandbag votes from Tom, who expressed it clearly, noting that they could forgive, but they could not forget.

The Boran tribe realized they needed Clarence’s strength for challenges, and delayed his eviction (though Tom kept sandbagging him with votes to both remind Clarence of his standing in the tribe and to have them in case anybody ever tied with him in a Tribal Council vote). However, when it came merge time, his strength was no longer an asset; it was a liability, and he got tossed immediately.

Clarence never recovered from his foolish decision to open a can of beans and share it with Diane. It earned him the contempt of the tribe, and led to his exile once they no longer needed his strength. It was a moment that spelled his doom and exile. His decision has earned him a Reality TV Hall of Shame Moment.

Jeffrey Clinard lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his kittens, Lam and Princess. He can be reached at

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How mad is she

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