Let’s get down to brass tax, this is a post about The Bachelor. If you don’t watch, it doesn’t matter because this season transcended the typical romantic utopia and found itself betwixt one of the biggest racial scandals the show has ever had. What’s more, at the core, it’s a show about love, and don’t we all know a thing or two about that?
I’m not going to get into the extensive background surrounding the controversy because that’s what Google is for and it would honestly require me to unpack the entire series as a whole. What I will do is put it as simply as this, when it comes to discussing matters of white supremacy on a network owned by Disney, white supremacy always wins.
Matt, the first Black bachelor, did not and could not have a happy ending because [SPOILER] he chose to end up with a white woman who once attended an antebellum themed sorority formal in 2018, and photos of that formal resurfaced when she became a clear frontrunner during the season. This, coupled with a poor defense of this woman from the show’s host, Chris Harrison, threw Matt, the show, and the country into what some are calling an “uncomfortable conversation.”
But why is it so uncomfortable? Is it because the controversy forced Matt to ultimately break up with this woman (whose name is Rachael but due to the way she spells it, I will not be typing that again)? Is it because the show clearly did not have enough resources in place to protect Matt’s well-being on and off the show? Is it because this woman had to then become some kind of figure for a post-racial insensitivity reckoning, a position she is grossly underqualified to hold? Is it because the other Black contestants on the show had to not only face humiliation by getting dumped on camera but also had to watch as the person who attended this triggering event was the woman who won Matt’s heart? Or was it uncomfortable because no one associated with the show or the controversy is actually equipped to have the conversation that we should be having?
Antebellum-themed greek life parties and weddings have been commonplace in this country for a very long time. Celebrities have attended and thrown these parties. Your friends and relatives have attended these parties. Hell, YOU may even have attended these parties. And what we really need to be asking is why we live in a culture that continues to hold on and celebrate a pre-civil war era? White supremacy, that’s why. And you know the deal, until we dismantle all forms of white supremacy we can’t actually have that conversation, so let’s look at this from a different angle, a heart-shaped angle if you will.
They say love makes us do crazy things but I think it’s actually the opposite, love makes us do sane things; the idea of being in love makes us do crazy things. I’ve dated people of many races and nationalities, but every relationship was the same. In each relationship, I started out with rose-colored glasses, then once I fell in love with them and understood their full being, my vision went 20/20, ultimately putting me in a position to make the decisions that were in my best interest (easier said than done, I know!). For Matt, that meant having to choose between being nationally scrutinized for loving someone who at one point believed the antebellum south is a totally retro vintage cool thing to emulate or cutting her off and growing a castaway beard (no shade Matt but trim that thing!). And hey, I get it. As a Black woman in an interracial relationship with someone from a southern state who has relatives that hold beliefs that are wildly different than my own, I understand that pressure, but that doesn’t make it right.
This mucky ending of The Bachelor not only failed Matt and his quest for love, but it also failed every person in the country looking for love beyond all norms and boundaries, be it racial, political, gender, or sexual. Racism exists everywhere and can be found in nearly every aspect of American life, but just denouncing someone or something racist doesn’t actually do anything to move the needle forward. How do you reckon your love for someone if they’ve once attended an antebellum party, was caught on video saying the n-word, supported Donald Trump, held homophobic beliefs, is xenophobic, and so on? I don’t know if I have that answer. What I do know is that we’ve all got blinders on when it comes to feeling a little less lonely in this dark, cold world. We all have things we are willing to look past for just a moment to be touched. But what happens when the shades come down and we are seeing someone for who they were and who they are? Should that affect the potential of who that person will one day become? Or does whatever happen in the fantasy suite stay in the fantasy suite?
Please comment, share your thoughts, ask a question, whatever! This is a topic I will certainly be thinking about all week. So let’s chat, I beg of you (kindly).