Bachelor Nation has been going through a lot, even though a lot of people are under the assumption that ignorance in the franchise is a new problem after reports of Rachael Kirckonnell’s racist actions came up. Yeah, no. This mess has BEEN around.
Before getting into the why the new era of our beloved show began, I’d just like to point out how disappointed I am in Chris Harrison. Disappointed, but not surprised. While our queen, Rachel Lindsay, tried explaining to Chris why going to a plantation-themed party is racist (I can’t believe something like that would even need an explanation), Chris dismissed her by saying, “who the hell are you?” What’s infuriating as a racialized person is when you try to tell someone that something is racist, and they simply tell you it isn’t. Instead of insisting on your own opinion, why don’t you listen to those who are actually affected and take their word for it? The only explanation as to why Chris Harrison felt comfortable enough to tell a Black woman they are in no place to call out racism would be because he knows he is protected by the franchise. He believed he was untouchable. This is a problem we see in pop culture over and over again. Rich, white men tend to get away with so much; we just saw it with Justin Timberlake’s overdue public apology to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson.
Like I mentioned in my first post earlier this week, up until recently, viewers simply had to accept the whiteness of the show, as well as the microaggressions and lack of representation that came with it until it was decided we weren’t going to stand for it anymore. The only difference this time around is the badass unionization movement that swept over Bachelor Nation in ways never seen before. A fan-created movement, Bachelor Diversity, shared a petition by Luan Martinez calling to fire Chris Harrison and get a new host. It cites both the interview, as well as racist and misogynistic behaviour he’s displayed in the past. The petition has gotten tens of thousands of signatures since it was published, and is still pulling in signatures. Bachelor Diversity has been a huge part in creating change within Bach Nation’s culture. Their petition pushing for anti-racism in the franchise has gotten over 150,000 signatures and counting, and had huge names like Rachel Lindsay endorse their work. Not only have movements like this shown the strength of numbers, but it has also put the spotlight on contestants to make a stand as well. This time, the contestants actually did.
The women of Matt James’s season lit up social media with a joint statement supporting Rachel Lindsay and denouncing any defence of racism, with 36 out of the 37 contestants on the show sharing this message online…
Rachael K. even shared it after posting her own apology for her racist actions.
And I have to say, even though I will be waiting to see if true change is made, I thought the part where she asked people not to accept the apology for those she actually affected is notable. Reading a bunch of comments from fans saying, “you have nothing to apologize for” sucks. It completely invalidates the feelings of Black people like me who were hurt by her actions. It really serves me the same “who the hell are you?” Chris Harrison energy, and I’m not here for it. While she still has lots and lots of work to do, it was nice to see Rachael call those comments out on her own.
The joint statements didn’t just stop there. The men from Clare/Tayshia’s Bachelorette season shared their own joint statement as well.
So the cast coming together to publicly disagree with Chris Harrison is huge. Disagreeing with Chris Harrison is like disagreeing with the whole show. I can’t help but wonder if some of the cast posted it in fear of being called out for not doing it, or thinking that the work is done there, because it isn’t. Nevertheless, the power in numbers is strong. Another issue in the franchise is the reality of white contestants having way more followers than BIPOC contestants, so it’s great to see them use their platform to lift up voices that have been silenced for so, so long.
This is also another amazing example of what having representation in a cast can do. This is what having the most diverse year of a cast is capable of: making REAL change. We don’t want to see representation in the show solely because we want to feel included. Even though that’s a factor, it’s also because having representation allows for change to be made from the inside out. I am almost certain that if this Chris Harrison interview happened made five years ago, it would be another story the world would just shrug their shoulders at.