I am the first person to admit that I am a diehard Bachelor/Bachelorette fan. I have been watching ever since a blonde, ripped, born-again-virgin man named Sean Lowe became the bachelor in 2013. Since then I have religiously watched five seasons of The Bachelor, four seasons of The Bachelorette and three seasons of Bachelor in Paradise.
The show has always had controversy following it, even the concept of the show has had people raising their eyebrows since Alex Mitchel first dated 26 women on national TV in 2002.
While I am a very empowered feminist who obviously believes in the equal pay, equal rights and overall equality, I have never had a problem with the fact that one person dates 26 people of the opposite gender because of the fact that these are all adults who are consenting and choosing to be a part of this experience. If they are doing it for the fame, more power to ya, if they are doing it to truly find love, it isn’t impossible on the show, you do you guys.
The thing about the The Bachelor franchise that I have always had more of a problem with is the lack of racial diversity.
Being multi-ethnic myself, I am fairly moderate in my views of racism in America. It absolutely does exist, but I don’t attribute it to every situation in the way that other people tend to. My mom still gets excited when she sees a bi-racial couple kissing on TV and that is understandable because in the year that she was born was the first year that it was legal for bi-racial couples to get married. I have been fortunate enough to be born in a day and age where that is not exciting for me anymore.
But for The Bachelor, it is glaring for me.
Currently in the US, approximately 77% percent of Americans are white alone. While that is a large statistic, that leaves 23% of the population who are not. If you compare those statistics to those of the ones on The Bachelor that is where it becomes problematic.
There has been one non-white male lead, Juan Pablo Galavis, who is an American-born Venezuelan, and only one non-white female lead, Rachel Lindsay, this season’s bachelorette, who is African-American.
This means that two of the thirty four combined bachelors and bachelorettes have been an ethnic minority, clocking in at 5.8%, significantly less than the 23% of non-white people in the US. This shows the massive gap in representation on this franchise.
This is where Rachel Lindsay’s season of The Bachelorette comes in. When she was announced as the Bachelorette, there was a generally positive reaction on Twitter:
Aww Rachel's going to be the first black Bachelorette I'm so happy she didn't win this season Nick didn't deserve her ✊👏👏#TheBachelor
— Barbie BrownSkin ♏ (@BARBIE_GO_HARD) February 14, 2017
HOWEVER, I'm so happy it's Rachel! The first black Bachelorette. Shine, black girl, shine!
— Wilson (@CW_theGREAT) February 14, 2017
After all these years of glaring preference for the white majority on the part of the producers, this was finally the show’s chance to get it right.
Not only was Rachel the first non-white bachelorette, she just happened to be cute, funny and not to mention an empowered, sassy and successful attorney. How this girl thought she had to go on this show to find love is beyond me because she is a total catch.
As people could have predicted, and as producers hinted at before the air date, Rachel’s men would be more racially diverse and more mature, reflecting her maturity.
While we had to sit through Whaboom, Blake E. and Tickle Monster, there is a generally more mature tone in regards to the majority of Rachel’s guys.
And then, after the second episode of this season, Twitter users dug around to find out that Lee, one of Rachel’s contestants is actually just a misogynistic racist.
There are old tweets on his page claiming that he’s never seen a pretty feminist, that the Black Lives Matter Movement is equivalent to a terrorist group and comparing Hillary Clinton to O.J. Simpson.
— Erika (@emesola) May 31, 2017
To apply to be on The Bachelorette, you have to go through many steps, but the first questionnaire asks if you have been convicted of a crime, if you have any tattoos, if you have ever had a temporary restraining order placed against you, full body pictures and the exact dates of when your last marriage dissolved if applicable.
If you become a semi-finalist in the application process, you are to have a psychological examination and testing.
Considering the amount of information they ask about you, I have a hard time believing that the producers don’t do some social media stalking of contestants to avoid problems just like this.
This means then, that producers put Lee on the show, with the first ever African-American bachelorette knowing for a fact that Lee had said racist things in the past.
At this point, that can only be called exploitation.
After Lee received a rose last week, people were pissed that he is still on the show, let alone the fact that he was ever even cast.
And even with the outcry, producers and executives have continued with Lee on the show and this narrative.
On last night’s episode, Lee and Kenny went on a one-on-one date with Rachel. As if one-on-one dates aren’t cringey enough to begin with, the producers decided to put Lee on with Kenny to continue to exploit racism for entertainment.
Now it is one of my personal pet peeves when people explain someone not liking the other one because of race but in this case, there has been a sufficient amount of proof over the fact that Lee does have a problem with Kenny’s race.
Not to mention the already noted racism in Lee’s past tweets, he was been building this narrative for weeks about how Kenny is aggressive. Kenny has not been aggressive at all. Did he yell a couple times? Sure! But if I was on a show living in a house with people defaming my character based on lies, you can bet I would yell a couple times as well. Yelling when appropriate in a situation is not actually at all the same thing as being an aggressive person.
As Will eloquently explained in a conversation with Lee, “when you call him aggressive, there is a long standing history in this country of regarding black men in America as aggressive to justify a lot of other things” to which Lee responded, “So, he’s the guy who gets mad and plays the race card to justify everything he does, because he can’t control himself.”
Just think about all the shootings on unarmed African-American men in the last two years, on the guise of “self-defense,” that is using the explanation of aggression to justify killing innocent men.
With the amount of race-related tension currently going on in the United States (for example a pregnant African-American mother being shot last week after calling 911 to report a buglary), now is really not the time for The Bachelorette, or any other show for that matter, to be playing it fast and loose with the concept of racism.
Like I said, I have been a steadfast fan of The Bachelor (I mean, I sat through all 12 episodes of Nick Viall’s ridiculously boring season for God’s sake) but the fact that after it has taken so long to finally get a non-white woman in the leading role and even then, they managed to still mess up with Lee, proves to me that either this show needs some intense and quick modernization or that it is time to call it a day.