Black Lives Matter protests across the country have led to a long-overdue racial reckoning in many aspects of American life — including ABC’s The Bachelor reality dating show, which is now in its 18th year and approaching its 25th season.
On June 12th, the show announced its new Bachelor will be Matt James (pictured above), a 28-year-old real estate broker. James will be the first-ever Black lead in the history of The Bachelor.
The reality show has long been criticized for the whiteness of not just its leads, but all contestants. The show has even been the subject of class action lawsuits alleging racial discrimination.
Although the franchise has numerous spin-offs, its flagship shows are The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, both of which feature a large group of potential romantic interests living together while vying for the heart of the same man or woman.
In 2017, Rachel Lindsay was the first-ever Black Bachelorette. Lindsay told Good Morning America on June 12th she is disappointed that in the years since her season, the show hasn’t made more progress with regards to representation: “There haven't really been changes made.”
On Twitter, Lindsay said that although she is happy to see a Black Bachelor at last, “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.”
The Bachelor host Chris Harrison also shared a statement from executive producers on Twitter. In the message, the team commits itself to expanding diversity on the series.
Hopefully, the Bachelor team will take Lindsay’s feedback seriously and commit to change that lasts beyond this season's final rose.