Reality TV gets real
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.