Boy Meets Racist Girl and Any Potential for a Spark Goes Up in Cross-Burning Flames
On "The Bachelor's" First Black Leading Man Pursuing Love and Encountering Casual Racism
A classic spin on the age-old refrain of “boy meets girl” goes a little something like this:
(Black) boy...see man, meets (white) girl...see a fully-aware adult, on the 25th season of a reality show framed around single men finding their soul mate. Black boy learns that the white girl he met, one of many on the show, has a casual racist history which includes posing for pictures while attending an antebellum-themed plantation party in college, dressing in offensive Native American garb and has a fetish for Confederate paraphernalia. And because the Black boy is the first romantic lead of his hue in the show’s history, naturally the revelation of the closed-door bigotry of one of his prospective love interests will cause a bit of a stir.
ABC’s The Bachelor has its first Black lead in Matt James. One of James’s suitors, Rachael Kirkconnell, is the girl in this saga who apologized two weeks ago for her past racist actions. Kirkconnel recently double-downed on her awakening and vows to now use her platform to share anti-racist resources. Which sounds cool and all, but there was one additional problem with all of this: the host of The Bachelor franchise, Chris Harrison, initially came out in defense of Kirkconnell, and now in the spirit of back-pedaling whiteness, has decided to step aside from the franchise.
Harrison, in an interview with “Extra” host Rachel Lindsay said this about the Kirkconnell controversy:
I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago and that's it. Like, boom, I’m like, 'Really’?
And when Lindsay informed Harrison that the image he casually was dismissing as no big deal was taken in 2018, he then said this:
Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018? Or, is it not a good look in 2021? Because there's a big difference; That was not the case in 2018. And again, I'm not defending Rachael. I just know that I don't know, 50 million people did that in 2018. That was a type of party that a lot of people went to.
Which caused an uproar for Harrison which led to him writing this on Instagram:
This historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions; To the Black community, to the BIPOC community: I am so sorry. My words were harmful. I am listening, and I truly apologize for my ignorance and any pain it caused you. I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the people from these communities who I've had enlightening conversations with over the past few days, and I am so grateful to those who have reached out to help me on my path to anti-racism.”
Or in other words, Matt James the first Black bachelor in the series history is not only tasked with looking for companionship but also finding room in his heart to forgive a woman who somehow thought that having a racist past and pursuing a Black dude on national television would never catch up with her, AND looking past the show’s white male host’s attempts to be a knight-in-shining-armor apologist to the white female contestant’s racism.
There’s got to be a less stressful way of finding love.