Well, that was fast.
Last night, as Chris Harrison repeatedly warned us would happen, The Bachelorette made the unprecedented move of introducing a handful of the new contestants to the new Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, on live TV. I don't know if I'd call it the earth-shattering and history-making move that Harrison made it out to be throughout the night, but watching Rachel meet four of the dudes who will be vying for her heart come May 22 was pretty cool.
Given that the show has not properly dealt with interracial dating or racial dynamics in general — save for last season, briefly, with Rachel and Nick Viall — I don't think anybody was surprised to witness an awkward moment for the first Black star in the Bachelor franchise's 15-year, 33-season history. I just don't think anybody expected it to come quite so soon — or, frankly, to be so dumb.
The third dude that Lindsay met, Dean, who is white, said this upon meeting the woman of his dreams who he hopes to one day marry: "I'm ready to go black and I'm never going to go back." Now, the ever-graceful Rachel did not appear to be ruffled by Dean's lowbrow line. "I love that," she laughed, later adding, "That was great." Whether or not she was truly not offended or just trying help things go as smoothly as possible on live TV, we don't know. But the feelings of those watching last night couldn't be more clear.
Indignant viewers took to Twitter to express their disbelief at Dean's remark — which seems like the kind of thing that should be at the top of your list of what not to say on your first date with a woman of color. "5 minutes into the bachelorette and a white guy already said to rachel "i'm ready to go black and i'm never going back," a viewer tweeted. "This is already a dumpster fire," wrote another. "What's more racist? ABC waiting 21 sns b4 a POC as a star/ Rachel's third bachelor contestant saying he's 'willing to go black&never go back[?]'" one critic asked, while another demanded, "Don't turn Rachel's season into corny race cliches - she deserves better!"
The degrees of offense people took to Dean's elementary race "humor" varied, with some calling him out for offhandedly fetishizing the first Black Bachelorette within 60 seconds of meeting her; others viewed it as a straight-up microaggression. And then there those who were at a loss for words at the incredibly awkward interaction they just witnessed, preferring to use funny memes to get their feelings across. (Our preferred form of internet speak.)
The verdict we can all agree upon? Rachel is a queen and should be treated as such. So, Dean and fellow contestants: that means no dumb-ass race jokes the minute you set foot out of the limo (or ever). You're not lightening the mood; you're making shit awkward AF for the woman. Hopefully, that kind of thing isn't indicative of the season to come. We're crossing our fingers for a more nuanced, sensitive — or just sensible — approach to the first Black Bachelorette in history.