I'll Watch The First Black 'Bachelorette,' But Won't Celebrate ABC For Diversity


Tonight, ABC will debut Rachel Lindsay, a 31-year-old lawyer, Texan and popular contestant on the previous season of The Bachelor — as the first black woman to star on the The Bachelorette.

ABC has also brought on 14 men of color as contestants, 11 of which are black, making this the most diverse season in the network's history.

People have been yippee-ing all over the internet because: Inclusion is amaze-balls.

But ABC doesn't deserve cookies for their first black bachelorette.

After 33 seasons of all white stars with the exception of one Venezuelan bachelor in 2014, a 2012 racial discrimination lawsuit that was dismissed and plenty of online backlash for being way too white — it appears the network had to make an effort to mix in more melanin.

For full disclosure, I've never watched an episode of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, specifically because I refrain from most shows that overdo it with whiteness and under-represent people of color.

It's less of an active protest than just me being naturally drawn to shows that reflect the world I live and move in every day.

For years, ABC's actions have sent a "You can't sit with us" message, and I was never pressed to crash the party.

Now that the invitation has been sent, it doesn't feel like a celebratory moment for people of color to be excluded so consistently and then be told, "Oh, you can come in now."

Even if ABC is well-meaning, including one black woman as the bachelorette for the first time in 15 years is no accomplishment. It's just a start.

To get diversity right, you have to go beyond mere inclusion.

Diversity is not a gift to be bestowed upon audiences if we're good; it is necessary and a reflection of our world.

Simply adding in more melanin isn't revolutionary because when inclusion isn't done genuinely, there's room for tokenism, micro-aggressions, discrimination, fetishization, and more.

What matters most is how consistent that inclusion is and the treatment of those included.

This season's bachelorette contestant, Dean, has already received backlash for a horrible joke he made when he spoke with Lindsay.

He, a white male, thought it would be uber-romantic to tell Lindsay, "I'm ready to go black and I'm never going to go back."

First of all: corny. Second of all: nah. Thirdly, if he does turn out to be the lucky winner and she brings him home, I would implore him not to repeat that mess to her family.

Lindsay didn't seem to be offended, but many viewers thought the joke was in poor taste.

Is there more of this terribly corny and borderline offensive commentary to come? Or will this season really be a quality show that's entertaining and realistic?

And hell, will this be the last bachelorette of color we even get? There are so many questions that need answers about this show.

So I'll be tuning in to check out Rachel Lindsay's love adventures, but I'll reserve applause for when the network shows a consistent commitment to diversity.

ABC, your move.