The Response To Rachel's Bachelorette Photo Is Disappointing

Photo: Michael Yada/ABC.
My last job at a gossip magazine came with a list of unwritten job requirements: 1. A passion (or at least, toleration) for the Kardashians, 2. Proficiency in using exclamation points in headlines, and 3. An Encyclopedic knowledge of The Bachelor. And while I love trashy TV as much as the next person, that last one was just never really my thing. Week after week, I'd receive anonymous tips in my email inbox (ones that Reality Steve would kill for), but I just couldn't bring myself to join in on the fun.
As a whole (and especially when it came to The Bachelor), I felt like a lot of the stories that I wrote during that time didn't reflect my culture, the topics and celebs that mattered to my family and friends, or my true interests. So why should I go home and saturate myself with more of it after my work day was done? Plus, I'm more of a Love & Hip Hop girl anyway.
But now that Rachel Lindsay, a lawyer from Dallas, is the new Bachelorette, I'm rethinking my usual Monday night diet of LAHH and whatever else comes on after that. I am SO here for Bachelorette Rach, for reasons that you've probably already guessed. She's a brilliant Black — BLACK! — woman making history on national TV with her role. (The first Black woman or man to hold the title in 33 combined seasons, if you can believe it.)
Rachel represents something else to me, too: that not all Black women fit into a specific box that TV producers have created for us. She's not an athlete's glammed-up arm candy you might see on VH1 or Oxygen; she's a thoughtful, independent woman who's 5'4, prefers little to no makeup, and has a super cute gap tooth. She wears a weave, but doesn't stress about a few post-Fantasy Suite flyaways — and maybe with more air-time we'll even see her with her hair wrapped or in a bonnet. (Epic morning-after material, if you ask me.) She's a smart-as-hell lawyer, a ball of energy that could take anyone in a dance-off, and manages to be the coolest girl in the room without even trying. She's stressed the importance of keeping it 100 and staying true to herself — so what we see is what we get. In other words, she's my cousin, my best friend, or even me. And I can't tell you how refreshing that is.
But, of course, despite my enthusiasm, the news of Lindsay's new job was met with hateful comments by people uncomfortable with change. After the big reveal, I saw a sprinkling of tweets about how she's an "ugly monkey" unfit for the honor. The garbage talk persisted after her campaign photo was released yesterday, just weeks before the season premieres in May. People picked her appearance apart, claiming her skin tone looked lightened, that they hoped she would fix her teeth before the show aired, that she better get someone to style her hair "right" on the show, the list goes on...
Sigh. I'm not surprised by the racist remarks, but that doesn't make them any less irritating.
Rachel herself has acknowledged the magnitude of her appointment as the first Black Bachelorette, but quickly countered it with "my journey of love isn’t any different just because my skin color is.” Many people on Twitter agreed, saying things like let's ignore race because we're all one and love is love. Or, my fave: "Lowkey we get that rachel is the first black bachelorette but can we not make every fucking date about her skin color like with nick."
And that's where I have to politely disagree. We simply cannot skim over this major moment of representation, where millions of people get to see a Black professional woman, on a major network, pursuing love — including love in interracial relationships. Ignoring her race diminishes the moment and closes the door to conversations we should be having and opportunities to school educate the Twitter trolls. And, it takes away a powerful moment to celebrate and appreciate her beauty for what it is: #blackgirlmagic.

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