Re­al­ity TV gets real

Metro Canada (Vancouver) - - VIEWS - Vicky Mochama Metro

Af­ter 13 sea­sons of ig­nor­ing it, I am now a mas­sive fan of tele­vi­sion’s long­est-run­ning ar­ranged mar­riage scheme, The Bach­e­lorette. This is be­cause the new­est bach­e­lorette is Rachel Lind­say, a black fe­male at­tor­ney.

It doesn’t even air un­til May 22 and I can con­clu­sively say it is the best show on tele­vi­sion. And not only did ABC an­nounce this dur­ing Black His­tory Month, but — it can’t be co­in­ci­dence — the new sea­son also pre­mieres on my birth­day. Fate has fore­told the great­ness of this show.

Even though it’s in the va­pid con­fines of The Bach­e­lorette, it is still awe­some to see many men vy­ing for a black wo­man’s at­ten­tion and love. Yet it is telling about the state of the world that the pro­duc­ers, look­ing for ways to shake up the show, landed on “What if she was a black?”

Like us­ing bad olive oil, it is of­fen­sive but not egre­gious. It sug­gests there’s some­thing in­cred­i­bly wild and risky about dat­ing a black wo­man. (I mean, there is, but that is be­cause black women are in­cred­i­ble! Not be­cause we are like feral an­i­mals in the out­back.) At the same time: fi­nally. This show has been on for 12 sea­sons! Black peo­ple have been around for much longer!

Although there have been black con­tes­tants on both The Bach­e­lor and Bach­e­lorette, Lind­say in­cluded, they’ve never been the ones do­ing the choos­ing. And since the show’s in­cep­tion in 2002, they never got chose ei­ther.

Black women who are dat­ing are sta­tis­ti­cally less likely to be picked. Ac­cord­ing to data from OkCupid founder Chris­tian Rud­der, men on the web­site find black women the least de­sir­able group.

In a cover fea­ture for The Wal­rus, Hadiya Roderique ex­per­i­mented with the idea by al­ter­nat­ing her OkCupid pro­file be­tween her ac­tual pic­tures, pic­tures of a white wo­man, and a “whitened” ver­sion of her­self. As a white wo­man, she re­ceived far more mes­sages than when she pre­sented as her­self, a black wo­man.

This jives with my own dat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. The first time I quit Tin­der was be­cause the mes­sages I re­ceived were hy­per-sex­u­al­ized and racial­ized. The for­mer is part of the ap­peal of the app to some, but for me the com­bi­na­tion just cre­ated a dig­i­tized ver­sion of the racist sex­ual ha­rass­ment I ex­pe­ri­ence in real life.

(I am back on again with some rules — e.g. if the other per­son says some­thing even re­motely racial, I hit that un­match but­ton faster than Usain Bolt sprints.)

For black women, the ro­man­tic fairy tale told by pop­u­lar cul­ture hasn’t in­cluded us. That is why I will be watch­ing The Bach­e­lorette when Rachel Lind­say finds her Prince Harry.


The choice is hers Rachel Lind­say is the next Bach­e­lorette, the irst black lead in the show’s his­tory.

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