Lone Black ‘Bachelor’ lead Rachel Lindsay demands show fix ‘systemic racism’

Rachel Lindsay visits 'Extra' at Burbank Studios on Sept. 17, 2019 in Burbank, Calif. Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

Rachel Lindsay, who starred as the only Black lead in The Bachelor series’ 18-year history, shared a blog post on Tuesday calling for the “systemic racism” within the franchise to be acknowledged.

After making headlines earlier this month for speaking out in an interview with Afterbuzz, saying she can’t be “affiliated” with The Bachelor if they don’t change, Lindsay is further discussing her stance.

“Recently, I have received many questions regarding the headlines stating that I will leave the Bachelor franchise if changes to address the lack of diversity in lead roles are not established,” Lindsay began her blog post.

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She went on to “fully explain why I’ve come to this decision.”

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“You have often heard me say in interviews that I never watched any Bachelor franchise show prior to being a contestant on it. It is not because I am not a fan of reality television because I watch a good share of that on the weekly. It is because Black people know historically and presently that the show is not formatted for their success,” Lindsay wrote.

Lindsay said that she had a “fulfilling experience” on The Bachelor and that it “opened her eyes to many new things.”

“But when I was asked to be the Bachelorette, I knew this was asking something completely different from me. I ultimately decided to be the Bachelorette because I knew this opportunity was bigger than me. I knew that I wanted to present myself to an audience that had not seen a lead of colour in this role,” Lindsay said.

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She continued: “I knew that I wanted to be a trailblazer in this franchise to diversify the lead role, to diversify the contestants trying out and casted (sic) for the show and to diversify the audience watching this show. Well, I am sad to say that after almost four years in this franchise, we still don’t have the diversity that this show needs and that our audience deserves.

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“Yes, more diverse contestants do appear on the show now, but is the lead truly interested and open to dating outside of their race? I think that is evident by how far their ‘journey’ takes them during each season,” Lindsay wrote. “It is a naive expectation to believe that leads will authentically start an interracial relationship for the first time on national television. The sad reality is that people of colour become placeholders as the token person of colour to add some flavour to the second half of the season.”

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Lindsay said that people are questioning why she is just realizing the way the Bachelor franchise is run.

“I did not just ‘wake up’ due to what is currently happening in our country. I have always been vocal about the problematic behaviour of the franchise and their failure to address their diversity issues; but I stayed with the franchise to be a voice on the inside to push for change,” she explained.

She went on to note examples of times she helped to hold the franchise “accountable.”

Lindsay’s examples included an instance in 2018 when she “called out the franchise for creating an emotionally charged finale that baited me for three hours and labelled me as an angry Black female.”

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Other examples included the 15-year Bachelorette reunion in 2019, in which she said: “It was sad for me to be the sole representation for women of colour.”

When Peter Weber was selected as The Bachelor instead of Mike Johnson in 2019, Lindsay said: “When you have a contestant like Mike Johnson, who seems to check all the boxes, how is he not the Bachelor… the system isn’t working in giving us a Bachelor who is a person of colour. So we need to change the system. Something has to be done. Break the rules, step outside the box, give the people what they want!”

“I still feel that I have not been loud enough on the deep-rooted, 18-year systemic problems in this franchise. You never want to bite the hand that feeds you, but you also do not want to be aiding and abetting problematic behaviour,” Lindsay wrote. “I am affiliated with this franchise and to be silent on some matters is to still be complicit with these cycles of detrimental conduct. If you saw your brother or sister continually doing something wrong would you not hold them accountable?

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“This is the reason that I have come to the conclusion that if changes are not made on the inside and outside of the franchise, I will dissociate myself from it,” Lindsay added.

The Bachelor alum said that she’s tired “of asking for change” and said that the whole franchise needs a “diversity makeover.”

Lindsay suggested that the franchise begin to “cast leads that are truly interested in dating outside of their race; stop making excuses for the lack of diversity and take action to rectify the problem; diversify the producers on the show to make your contestants of colour feel more comfortable; and stop creating problematic storylines for people of colour.”

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She also urged the franchise to “make a statement acknowledging their systemic racism.”

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“The system is not designed for people of colour,” Lindsay said. “This is not a shocking or groundbreaking statement when the creator of the show admitted that my season’s lower ratings ‘revealed something about our fans’ and furthermore concluded that it was ‘incredibly disturbing in a Trumpish kind of way.'”

Lindsay concluded her post by comparing the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise to the National Football League (NFL).

“If the National Football League, an organization notoriously known for not standing behind their athletes of colour, can come out to make a statement to condemn racism and their systemic oppression and admit they were wrong for not listening in the past, then the Bachelor franchise can most certainly follow suit,” she said.

“Only time will tell how the franchise will respond, but to date, they have been silent,” she added. “Until then, make sure you tune in on Mondays for all the white reasons to watch The Bachelor: Greatest Seasons Ever as it will weekly highlight the very thing that is wrong with this franchise.”

Global News has reached out to ABC, which airs the franchise, for comment on Lindsay’s post.

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Ahead of her blog post, Lindsay also signed the Bachelor Diversity Campaign’s petition to diversify the reality show cast on the long-running reality TV dating competition.

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“As creators of one of the most popular and influential franchises on television, ABC and Warner Bros. have an opportunity and responsibility to feature Black, Indigenous, people of colour (‘BIPOC’) relationships, families and storylines,” the Bachelor Diversity Campaign’s petition reads. “The franchise, and all those who represent it, should reflect and honour the racial diversity of our country ⁠— both in front of and behind the camera.”

The petition says that Bachelor nation wants ABC and Warner Bros. to take the following actions to help combat racism:

“Cast a Black bachelor as Season 25 lead, cast BIPOC for at least 35 per cent of contestants each season hereafter, give equitable screen time to BIPOC contestants, actively support BIPOC cast, including providing mental health resources specifically geared to helping them navigate the Bachelor franchise experience as BIPOC and equitably compensate and hire more BIPOC employees in all parts of production, casting and filming.”

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The petition launched on Monday afternoon and had a goal of 10,000 signatures but the goal has been updated to 75,000. It has 74,281 signatures as of this writing.

Global News previously reached out to ABC for comment on the Bachelor Diversity Campaign petition but did not hear back by publication time.