After months of controversy over racism allegations against longtime host Chris Harrison, which led to Harrison’s departure from the ABC franchise, the first Black Bachelorette has penned an op-ed in New York magazine. Rachel Lindsay called the piece “an opportunity to tell my story and share my experience with the Bachelor franchise.”
“The franchise has spent 19 years cultivating a toxic audience,” wrote Lindsay. “They have constantly given it a product it wants: a midwestern/southern white, blonde, light-eyed Christian. Not all viewers are like that. My Higher Learning [podcast] co-host and I have divided it – there is a Bachelor Nation, and there is a Bachelor Klan.”
She said that bachelor Klan subset is “hateful, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic…They are afraid of change. They are afraid to be uncomfortable. They are afraid when they get called out.”
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She writes that that racism became painfully apparent during the controversy that led to Harrison’s departure.
Harrison urged “compassion” for Bachelor over 2018 photos that surfaced of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell participating in an “Old South” slave plantation-themed fraternity formal.
“I wouldn’t say Chris and I were friends, exactly,” Lindsay wrote for New York. “When you’re the Bachelorette, you’re traveling with him, sitting in hotels and airports. There’s a lot of hurrying up and waiting, and he’s the one you do it with.”
“During my season and after, he became someone who gave me advice on how to navigate the show and the celebrity of it. I called him my fairy godfather. We’d had our highs and lows, but there had been mutual respect until this interview,” she wrote.
Lindsay admits she was “exhausted from defending myself against a toxic fandom,” a situation that worsened amid the Harrison scandal — it was Lindsay who conducted the ExtraTV interview where Harrison sympathized with Kirkconnell.
She says the show’s producers often protected her, not using unflattering footage of her drunk or protecting her from being portrayed as the “angry Black female” in disputes.
But she also expressed she feet “exploited” during her Bachelorette Hometown date with Peter Kraus, in which a staged conversation with two women led to talk “about having ‘mixed babies’ and what it was like to be an interracial couple.”
“I couldn’t believe it,” wrote Lindsay. “I’m Black. I have interracial couples in my family. I’m old enough to understand what I’m entering into and the difficulties that come with it. I felt exploited.”
“If anything, that situation turned me off of Peter because I couldn’t see myself hanging out with them,” she added. “They were nice, but it was so contrived. The producers really thought, How great! All these mixed couples can come together. They were only looking at the optics of the situation.”
Experiences like that led Lindsay to try and take control of her own narrative. “I was a token until I made sure I wasn’t,” she writes.
After the piece was published on Monday, the former Bachelorette also took New York to task, saying she was proud of what she wrote and that it was a collaboration with the magazine reflecting her truth, but that the cover line for the story, “Oops, I Blew Up The Bachelor,” was “very disappointing and disrespectful.” She says she was let down by its triteness: “The very notion I was trying to refute was used against me by the publication for a clickbait headline,” she added. “My truth and my thoughts are told on the inside of the magazine which I am very proud of and hope you all read.”