Rachel Lindsay Says Matt James's Casting as the First Black Bachelor Feels Like a "Knee-Jerk Reaction"
"This announcement, without any further commitments regarding diversity, sweepingly brushes deeper issues under the rug."
After nearly two decades and 24 seasons, The Bachelor franchise cast its very first black male lead this week, but according to former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, the show's decision feels more like a "knee-jerk reaction" to the current social movement than a commitment to real change.
On Friday, Lindsay — who called for ABC producers to acknowledge that they've engaged in systematic racism earlier this week — reacted to the news of Matt James's historic casting on Juliet Litman's podcast Bachelor Party.
"Don't get me wrong, it is lovely that there is a black Bachelor. It is great, but let's get in to the but," said Lindsay, adding: "I have been very vocal about the fact that we need a black Bachelor. This is not because of the movement. I always have to say that. I have always pushed for diversity. It's just black voices are being amplified in a way that they have never been before ... and now people are paying attention."
She continued, "The fact that there are a list of things I have requested and this petition that's on Change.org, and the bare minimum was done, which seems to be so simple, right? Just give us a black Bachelor? That's what you do? It's a Band-Aid. It's the easiest thing to me that you can do and I hate that it's in response — or it seems like a knee-jerk reaction to what happened in our society, what happened with George Floyd and the pressure that you're getting from society."
Lindsay shared a similar reaction on Twitter while congratulating James on his role. "Congrats to Matt James. I am happy to see that a black man was cast after 18 years and 40 seasons. I believe it is a step in the right direction," she began, before pointing out that the announcement alone "brushes deeper issues under the rug."
"Until we see action to address the systemic racism within the franchise, the casting news today is equivalent to the trend of posting a black box on your social media account without other steps taken to dismantle the systems of injustice," she wrote. "I look forward to hearing more about the additional efforts the franchise plans to make towards change."
That same day, The Bachelor released a statement accepting responsibility for the franchise's lack of diversity and how they plan to make impactful changes in the seasons to come.
"We acknowledge our responsibility for the lack of representation of people of color on our franchise and pledge to make significant changes to address this issue moving forward," the statement read. "We are taking positive steps to expand diversity in our cast, in our staff, and most importantly, in the relationships that we show on television. We can and will do better to reflect the world around us and show all of its beautiful love stories."