Just when you thought Rachel Lindsay had officially removed herself from the chaos of The Bachelor, the reality star has stepped back into the conversation to highlight another ongoing problem within the franchise.
The last season of The Bachelor was a rough one for the former Bachelorette because of the drama surrounding around Matt James, the first Black Bachelor in the show's history. James himself sparked a lot of controversy, but his issues were overshadowed by those of his contestant pool and host Chris Harrison. Season 25 brought the troubling, low-key racist reality of The Bachelor to the forefront, underscored by Rachael Kirkconnell's past and Harrison's subsequent defense of her. As the franchise's first person of color in the lead and the very first Black Bachelorette, Lindsay was pulled into the discourse, which quickly turned toxic; she was cyberbullied online as a result of her critique of the show to the point that she had to temporarily disable her Instagram.
Months after the dust settled, Lindsay is looking back at her experience with new eyes. In a conversation with Ziwerekoru "Ziwe" Fumudoh on the new Showtime series Ziwe, the former Bachelorette reminisced on her time as the lead on the dating franchise. We know Lindsay has long had her problems with The Bachelor for quite some time, but the new interview revealed a different, more sinister issue: its tendency to cast people who don't actually like Black women.
“What do you think about the fact that all three of the Black Bachelors and Bachelorettes have all ended up with partners who are not of color?” Ziwe questioned Lindsay on the show.
“I think I got a little bit more grace because I was the first and people were just excited that a person of color was in this role,” Lindsay, who is the first of The Bachelor's three Black leads (including James and Tayshia Adams). “But then I think when the next person chose someone that wasn’t Black, and then by the time we got to the third one it was like, ‘you know what, they’re just not going to choose anybody that’s Black.'"
“There was a point where I broke down on camera, and they used my tears for something else, but I was getting upset at the selection of men of color,” Lindsay continued. “I also learned as I was going through my season that several of the Black men on my season didn’t date Black women.”
To be fair, Lindsay isn't wrong — The Bachelor has been playing Black women for a very long time. On her season, the show knowingly cast many men who had never dated a Black women before as well as some whose personal dating preferences actively excluded Black women. Beyond that, Black women on the show have never gotten the airtime, the one-on-one dates, or even the post-show influencer opportunities that their white counterparts have gotten. Much of that is due to the fact that the franchise insists on casting them as a show of its "commitment to diversity" rather than actually creating an environment in which real relationships can thrive.
But on the other end of that critique is a missing piece of self-awareness. Lindsay's season of The Bachelorette had 11 Black contestants, the most Black men we'd ever seen on any season of the franchise at that point. Let's be real, Lindsay didn't really gravitate towards any of them; from the beginning, her eyes were set on Peter Kraus (a white man from Madison, Wisconsin) and Bryan Abasalo (a white Latinx guy from Miami, Florida). Week after week, we watched her send home most of the Black men in her pool of contestants without really taking the time to get to connect with them until only one, Eric Bigger, remained in her final three. And we all know what happened at the end of the season — Lindsay rode off into the sunset with Abasalo and has been living happily ever after with him ever since.
It's true that Lindsay didn't have to pick a Black man at the end of the day. Yes, there may have been desires or even expectations from Black viewers that the first Black Bachelorette on the show would end up with someone who looked like her — who doesn't want to see Black love on TV? — but fans ultimately supported her decision at the end of the day (even the ones who were rooting for Kraus). It's absolutely true that The Bachelor has an unfortunate propensity towards anti-Blackness and misogynoir, often recruiting Black people (particularly Black women) to serve as props in other people's love stories even when Blackness and race are at the center of the season like they have been in recent installments. And it's also true that Lindsay was part of that machine as well, as evidenced by the way she navigated her own season.
Unfortunately, this call is coming from inside of the house.