If you’re watching The Bachelor: The Most Unforgettable—Ever! plumb the archives for Bachelor Nation’s most emotional (and embarrassing) moments, you’ll notice the elephant in the room making itself all the more apparent: In 40 seasons over 18 years, there’s been only one (1!!!) Black lead cast in a Bachelor franchise.
So, yeah. It’s ridiculous. It’s always been ridiculous. So is Bachelor Nation finally going to stand up and do something about it? Maybe now—a petition, titled “A Campaign for Anti-Racism in the Bachelor Franchise,” was started in early June, and has made enough rounds on social media to grab the attention of former stars Tyler Cameron, Rachel Lindsay, Kaitlyn Bristowe, Lauren Burnham, Seinne Fleming, Nicole Lopez-Alvar, Nick Viall, Diggy Moreland, and more, who each have thrown their support behind the cause. Thousands of signatures have poured in over a matter of days.
The petition demands that ABC and Warner Bros. do the following:
- Cast a Black bachelor as the Season 25 lead
- Cast BIPOC for at least 35 percent of contestants in the following seasons
- 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
- Equitably compensate and hire more BIPOC employees in all parts of production, casting, and filming
- Vet contestants more thoroughly to ensure those who have promoted prejudice are not cast.
- Hire a BIPOC diversity consultant.
- Condemn racist abuse directed toward BIPOC contestants and announce a “zero tolerance” policy toward racism on air.
- Provide resources for viewers to learn more about BIPOC stories and organizations supporting BIPOC causes.
- Feature BIPOC contestants, including their experiences as BIPOC, on the show as storylines.
- Ensure that indigenous cultures are not exploited and their portrayal does not perpetuate harmful stereotypes.
- Pledge to donate to a cause that will help combat racism.
- Issue a public statement apologizing for enabling systemic racism within the franchise and offer a clear plan for demonstrable anti-racism efforts moving forward.
But the petition doesn’t let Bachelor fans off the hook either. The movement demands viewers end their complicity in the show’s racism. It asks all who sign the petition to:
- Show zero tolerance for racism—online, offline, everywhere.
- Support BIPOC contestants by speaking up when you perceive unequal treatment.
- Listen thoughtfully to BIPOC contestants about their experiences and their suggestions for how to best support them.
- Appreciate that producers, in part, base their decisions on viewer feedback and whom viewers choose to support.
- Recognize that anti-racism is an ongoing effort that requires continuous self-education and action.
The petition arrives in the middle of global protests against police brutality and racism, as well as recent comments from former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, the only Black lead cast in the show’s history. In an interview with AfterBuzz, she said, “It’s been asked of me will I continue in this franchise if it continues this way. I can’t. I have to see some type of change. It’s ridiculous. It’s embarrassing. At this point it’s embarrassing to be affiliated with it.”
But the promises from Bach higher-ups have been, uh, lukewarm at best. In January, Bachelor executive producer Martin Hilton told Entertainment Tonight that diversity is something the franchise is working to improve…“in an organic way.” “We’re trying to figure out how to do that better,” he added.
He told the publication that the Bachelor franchise has “no quota” for diversity, and that “it’s getting harder and harder, by the way, to find people who are really authentically there [to find love].” Which seems to insinuate there are no Black contestants to choose from who are “authentically” interested? Sorry, not buying it.
Then in May, SiriusXM host Bevy Smith interviewed host Chris Harrison, who said he’s working on pushing the show toward more diversity but claimed they’d struggled to find candidates from different backgrounds during early casting calls. He even said producers were “begging” people to audition. “We had to stop and think why—is it the chicken or the egg?…We had to take that first step and have done better at casting and putting more diverse people on the show, therefore you see yourself represented more,” he said. “Again, I think it takes a long time to turn around a big boat.” He also mentioned the franchise is getting “better numbers” at auditions now.
But he brushed off the idea of allowing someone else—for instance, a person of color—to host the show for even one season nor did a season dedicated entirely to people of color seem to thrill him. “I would rather not lose my job in this,” he said, laughing. “…I don’t know if the answer is to go all the way to the opposite side to where the other side doesn’t feel represented.”
Yikes. So if you’re interested in signing the petition, you can find it here.
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