10:16am PT by Evan Real
'Bachelorette' Alum Rachel Lindsay Demands Franchise Address "Systemic Racism"
Rachel Lindsay on Tuesday shared an emotional blog post, calling for the "systemic racism" within The Bachelor franchise to be addressed.
The former Bachelorette star — the first and only Black lead since the franchise's 2002 debut — has spoken out about the show's lack of diversity in the past but is now promising to "disassociate" herself from the show if action is not taken. Her post comes in the wake of George Floyd's death and the reignited Black Lives Matter movement, protesting police brutality against Black people.
"Recently, I have received many questions regarding the headlines stating that I will leave the Bachelor franchise if changes to address the lack of diversity in lead roles are not established," wrote Lindsay, who lives in Miami with husband Bryan Abasolo, whom she met during her run as star of The Bachelorette season 13 in 2017.
Lindsay recently revealed in multiple podcast interviews that it is "embarrassing to be affiliated with" the franchise due to its mostly white casting.
"Yes, more diverse contestants do appear on the show now, but is the lead truly interested and open to dating outside of their race? I think that is evident by how far their 'journey' takes them during each season," wrote Lindsay, whose spouse is of Colombian descent. "It is a naive expectation to believe that leads will authentically start an interracial relationship for the first time on national television. The sad reality is that people of color become placeholders as the token person of color to add some flavor to the second half of the season."
Lindsay went on to note the many times she's called out The Bachelor and The Bachelorette for its minimal representation over the years, but said that her being vocal has yet to enact change.
"I still feel that I have not been loud enough on the deep-rooted, 18-year systemic problems in this franchise. You never want to bite the hand that feeds you, but you also do not want to be aiding and abetting problematic behavior," wrote Lindsay. "I am affiliated with this franchise and to be silent on some matters is to still be complicit with these cycles of detrimental conduct. If you saw your brother or sister continually doing something wrong would you not hold them accountable?"
Lindsay then said that she would separate herself from the show if its diversity issue is not rectified. "This is the reason that I have come to the conclusion that if changes are not made on the inside and outside of the franchise, I will dissociate myself from it," she continued. "I am tired of asking for change and my requests have been ineffective. These changes have to extend beyond casting a lead of color. The whole franchise needs a diversity makeover."
Lindsay also provided ABC with ways to fix the problem: "1. Cast leads that are truly interested in dating outside of their race. 2. Stop making excuses for the lack of diversity and take action to rectify the problem. 3. Diversify the producers on the show to make your contestants of color feel more comfortable. 4. Stop creating problematic story lines for people of color."
Lindsay also urged the franchise — which is produced by Warner Bros. Television — to speak up in solidarity with the Black community.
"The franchise should make a statement acknowledging their systemic racism. The system is not designed for people of color," the Bachelor alum stated. "This is not a shocking or groundbreaking statement when the creator of the show admitted that my season’s lower ratings 'revealed something about our fans' and furthermore concluded that it was 'incredibly disturbing in a Trumpish kind of way.'"
Lindsay concluded her piece by comparing the Bachelor franchise to the National Football League — and taking aim at the show's summer series, The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons — Ever!, a replacement for Clare Crawley's forthcoming season of The Bachelorette, delayed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"If the National Football League, an organization notoriously known for not standing behind their athletes of color, can come out to make a statement to condemn racism and their systemic oppression and admit they were wrong for not listening in the past, then the Bachelor franchise can most certainly follow suit," Lindsay wrote. "Only time will tell how the franchise will respond, but to date they have been silent. Until then, make sure you tune in on Mondays for all the white reasons to watch The Bachelor: Greatest Seasons Ever as it will weekly highlight the very thing that is wrong with this franchise."
Not long before Lindsay shared her blog post, she — along with other notable Bachelor and Bachelorette alums, including Onyeka Ehie, Diggy Moreland, Seinne Fleming, Marquel Martin, Sydney Lotuaco, Tyler Cameron and Desiree Siegfried, among others — signed a Change.org petition titled "A Campaign For Anti-Racism in the Bachelor Franchise," demanding that a Black man be cast as the next Bachelor lead for season 25.
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to ABC and Warner Bros. for comment.
Read Lindsay's entire blog post here.