On Tuesday night, DeMario Jackson finally addressed Bachelor Nation directly in the wake of his sex scandal with Corinne Olympios. After allegations of sexual misconduct on the set of Bachelor in Paradise led to a production halt and a formal investigation by Warner Bros., public opinion did not favor Jackson. Vague details about the incident from shady sources implied that Jackson sexually assaulted Olympios, despite the fact that she never came forward with any accusations, and he insisted that their encounter was consensual. Warner Bros. concluded its investigation and found that no misconduct had occurred from the crew or cast. Jackson didn’t do anything wrong. During last night’s Bachelor in Paradise after show, Jackson sat across from Chris Harrison and shared an emotional testimony to describe what happened on set and how his life has been affected in the aftermath.
Through tears, Jackson discussed how the scandal has affected his professional life, his family, and his spirits. He is still hurt and embarrassed. It was tough to watch. Things clearly didn’t end for him when the investigation concluded and the production resumed without him. For me, it actually opened a completely new can of worms that may never get resealed — and this the most frustrating aspect of this entire ordeal. A non-Black person — in this case the producer that made the accusations — set into motion a situation that would impact a Black person the most, while they got to remain invisible. It’s something I’ve experienced too many times to count. Here’s a light example:
A few years ago, I worked at a job that required me to plan a conference for about 300 college students from all over the country to talk about their legislative priorities. I had long box braids because I needed a style that would be super low maintenance for the late nights and early mornings that I would have to endure. Right before our opening night party, one of the attendees — a young white woman who had clearly been pre-gaming — came towards me. “I loooove your hair,” she oozed. And before the compliment was completely out of her mouth, both of her hands were on one side of my head, running down the length of my braids with fascination. I awkwardly maneuvered out of her grip and started, “Please don’t touch my hair...” Before I could finish “...but thank you,” she immediately turned around and scurried off. She quite literally ran away from me.
It wasn’t her voyeuristic handling of the hair attached to my body that seared this experience into my memory — that kind of cluelessness is more laughable than anything else. It was her unwillingness to offer an apology, or even sit in the discomfort of the moment for just a second to acknowledge how I might have felt that angered me the most. Her response to having her actions called out was to simply remove herself from the situation and leave me with the weight of it. I think about her all the time, desperately wishing I could go back to that moment and demand some accountability from her. Although the stakes were much higher for Jackson, I read this same desperation in his voice in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I want to know from that producer just straight up, why?,” he told the outlet.
We may never know why. He may never have that closure. As Jackson sat on that couch, bearing his soul under the weight of this situation, the non-Black producer that called foul on him and Olympios’s sexual encounter gets to continue her life in obscurity. She will work again; her privacy and reputation are intact. She never has to publicly acknowledge the mess she’s made of someone else’s life. What happened to Jackson makes me sad, but the feeling that there will never be any justice for it pisses me off.
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