Rachel Called Out The Bachelorette For Ignoring Erich's Blackface Photo
"As sure as there will be roses, there will be racism."
The Bachelor franchise is supposedly all about love. But in reality, the TV juggernaut is mostly just messy. Sometimes, the drama is fun, but as recent years have brought to light, the franchise is also riddled with very real problems that it clearly has trouble handling. This was evident during The Bachelorette’s Season 19 finale, when Erich Schwer was questioned about pre-filming texts he sent to an ex... but not about a photo of him in Blackface that’s been making its rounds online. Many viewers had a problem with The Bachelorette ignoring Erich’s Blackface controversy — including Rachel Lindsay, the franchise’s de facto voice of reason.
In case you missed it: As Gabby Windey whittled down her selection of suitors onscreen, IRL, someone dug up a photo from Erich’s high school yearbook that swiftly went viral. The photo was of Erich in Blackface, wearing a Jimi Hendrix costume.
Erich apologized for the Blackface photo on Sept. 8. “What I thought at the time was a representation of my love for Jimi Hendrix, was nothing but ignorance,” he wrote in an Instagram caption, accompanied by a black square. “I was naïve to the hurtful implications of my actions to the Black community and those closest to me, and will forever regret my offensive and damaging behavior. I am deeply ashamed by my actions and understand that my apology is only the first step in taking accountability.”
Although the photo had been the talk of Bachelor Nation social media for two weeks leading up to the Sept. 20 reunion special, it was not addressed at all when host Jesse Palmer sat down with Erich and Gabby. Instead, Erich’s segment focused on some shady texts he sent his ex, without any mention of the actual scandal fans were concerned with.
Many fans were outraged to learn the producers didn’t make time during the season’s three-hour finale (!) to have Erich publicly address the photo.
Chief among those criticizing the show for this choice is former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay.
“Sigh, somebody has to say this,” Lindsay wrote on her Instagram Story the night of the Sept. 20 finale. “This is the picture they should have posted and addressed tonight in the finale instead of text from the ex. They really missed the mark on a necessary and important conversation that was initially not conveyed. This was an opportunity for @Erich_Scwher to put action to his IG post rather than hide behind it. Unfortunately not all of us can hide in the same way when we are so highly offended by it.”
Lindsay went on to sum up her feelings about the mishandling in the comment section of a Bachelorette fan account that also called out Erich’s Blackface photo not being brought up, writing: “As sure as there will be roses, there will be racism.”
This isn’t the first time Lindsay has called out the Bachelor franchise for racial insensitivity. She famously stood her ground in a 2021 interview with former host Chris Harrison as he attempted to defend contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s resurfaced photos from a plantation-themed fraternity party when she was in college. Although Harrison ended up apologizing for his comments made in the interview, the backlash from that interaction led to Harrison leaving the Bachelor franchise for good.
It looks like Lindsay is going to keep holding the Bachelor franchise accountable, but she’s not alone (nor should she be). Fellow Bachelor Nation alum Thomas Jacobs also spoke out about the show’s handling of Erich’s Blackface photo (or lack thereof), writing on his Instagram story: “Especially in the specific context of racial relations when it comes to this franchise in particular … to have a scenario like this and to just not even bring it to light, especially after everything that’s happened bringing us to this point over the last three years … it’s pretty disappointing.” And that’s to say nothing of the countless fans who are frustrated about the franchise once again fumbling the bag when it comes to racism and representation.