Rachel Lindsey is about to show Bachelor Nation what black excellence looks like. The bubbly attorney from Dallas was a fan-favorite on season 21 of “The Bachelor”, bringing beauty and brains to the show. And while many, myself included, were disappointed to learn that Rachel would not be receiving the Final Rose, it is massive consolation to know she won’t be leaving our TV screens anytime soon.
Rachel had instant chemistry with Nick Viall from night one and was awarded the First Impression Rose. While hilarious villain Corrine and her nanny received more airtime, Rachel successfully made her way into the hearts of Nick and the audience. Although her journey to find love in front of millions came to an end, she has made it clear during multiple television appearances that she has no regrets and holds no malice towards Nick.
While the skin color of a reality TV show’s lead may not seem like a huge deal, it’s a big moment for a demographic that has only recently started getting widespread media representation. Nowadays, we can turn on our TV screens and see Kerry Washington, Taraji P. Henson and Issa Rae playing complex and multi-dimensional characters, but this type of visibility had to be fought for. The casting of a (dark-skinned!) black woman as the face of historically white-centered TV show is a big deal.
In the past, “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” have had less than stellar reputations in the diversity department. Like clockwork, most seasons have featured a few scattered minorities that may get a few scenes in before being sent home. Rarely, the Final Roses have gone to diverse contestants, including Roberto Martinez during Ali Fedotowsky’s season and Catherine Giudici of Sean Lowe’s season. (Martinez is Puerto Rican and Giudici is part-Filipino). While “The Bachelor” had it’s first non-white lead in 2014, with the disappointing and disastrous Juan Pablo Galavis, Lindsey will be the first woman of color to head the popular franchise.
Of course, Rachel is absolutely stunning. But her beauty is not the extent of her worth. She is also incredibly smart (did I mention she’s a practicing attorney?), friendly and self-assured. During “The Bachelor,” she came off as determined but never rude or catty. She knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to go after it. During her interview on “The Ellen Show”, Rachel made it clear that, at 31 years old, she’s searching for a mature and stable man she can make a life with.
During her hometown date, Rachel showed that she was not willing to shy away from the serious topic of race. Unfortunately, discrimination and prejudice are obstacles that interracial couples must still address. Open discussions about race on television are exactly what we need to help normalize interracial love and marriage.
Reality television is not known for presenting positive representations of black women. Shows like “Love and Hip Hop” and “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” display constant backstabbing, weave-snatching and drink-tossing, all in the name of ratings. Successful, hardworking and relatable sisters are hard to find in the reality world. While “The Bachelor” is also guilty of promoting competition between women, “The Bachelorette” puts the woman in a position of power to dictate her future. It flips the script on the belief that women aren’t allowed to date around and let loose.
Some critics feel that it is too little, too late for “The Bachelorette” to finally make a real effort to increase diversity. Truthfully, I don’t know why it has taken this long. Perhaps, in past years, the powers that be over at ABC didn’t think the seemingly overwhelmingly white female audience of “The Bachelorette” would be able to relate to a minority lead. But it is never too late for progress. Race is a hot button issue in today’s tumultuous political climate and it’s important for Americans to come together despite their differences. Rachel’s role on “The Bachelorette” gives her a platform to show that we all have more in common than we think- falling in love and dealing with heartbreak are universal experiences we can all relate to, no matter what our skin color.
I am beyond excited to watch Rachel bring some #BlackGirlMagic to Bachelor Nation later this year. I think we can all agree that it’s about time.