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The First Black Bachelorette

After 21 seasons of The Bachelor and 12 seasons of The Bachelorette, which adds to a total of 33 leads throughout the show’s history, ABC recently announced that Rachel Lindsay will be the first black lead ever for the upcoming season of The Bachelorette. Lindsay is a contestant on the current season with Nick Vial, which (spoiler alert!) means she will not be winning in next week’s season finale.

Rachel Lindsay is making history by being the first, and long awaited, black lead in the show’s history. In addition to Juan Pablo, who quickly became a hated and controversial contestant due to his inappropriate behavior, she is one of only two contestants who were not white. While some consider it ridiculous that it has taken this long for a minority to be represented on the show, others are applauding Rachel’s strength and bravery, which of course brings up an important question; what role does race play in the show?

On the current season, race has already been discussed. When Nick Viall visited Rachel’s hometown, her family instantly brought up concerns about the pressures faced by inter-racial couples. Rachel’s mom did not hesitate to ask questions about Nick’s history of ever dating a black girl, his views on race, and his intentions with her daughter. When he responded by assuring the mother that he didn’t see color and Rachel’s skin color did not matter to him, she responded truthfully by reminding him color does matter, though he may not have had to experience it in the past as a white male. 

Now that she is officially kicked off of the show as of Monday, Rachel has been more open in discussion about her hopes, fears, and excitements. In a recent interview she noted that race will be a challenge in her season, as the “pressure to pick a black man” looms over her head. Many supporters ask her if she will pick a black man as the winner, and her amazing response was enough to answer any questions one might have about the role race will play on her season: It’s my journey in finding love. And whether that person is black, white, red, whatever — it’s my journey. I’m not choosing a man for America, I’m choosing a man for me.”

Although I hate to admit it, I am indeed an avid watcher of The Bachelor/ Bachelorette. While watching this season’s first episode, I am proud to say that Rachel became one of my favorite contestants almost immediately. She is a lawyer, she was dressed in a classy, non-revealing outfit, and she is arguably the most down to earth girl I’ve ever seen on the show. She says the sort of things that make me think, “there you go girl, good for you!” as opposed to my usual reaction of being annoyed yet highly entertained at the other girls’ drama and absurd comments. Aiding my positive reaction to Rachel’s personality, the rest of the world has thrown a lot of support towards her upcoming season. While race has inevitably been highlighted throughout Rachel’s recent press, she emphasizes that she does not want it to be all about race.

As she stated in a recent interview, “I just hope that people rally behind me like they did in Nick’s season … I’m just trying to find love. Even though I’m an African-American woman, it’s no different than any other Bachelorette.”

I know I will be watching and cheering Rachel on this summer from my couch with a big bowl of popcorn. You go, girl. 

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