Lindsay, who was the first black woman to front the companion show The Bachelorette in 2017, congratulated James, but she also cautioned the move “feels like a knee-jerk reaction and a result of societal pressure.”
Many companies are scrambling to become — or at least appear — more inclusive, as people across the country protest racial inequality. They’re firing employees following racist incidents and pulling offensive material.
Lindsay said the action, on its own, 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.”
She said she looks forward to learning more about what the 18-year-old Bachelor franchise, which also includes The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart and Bachelor in Paradise, has planned for increasing diversity.
Congrats to Matt James. I am happy to see that a black man was cast after 18 years and 40 seasons. I believe it is a step in the right direction.— Rachel Lindsay (@TheRachLindsay) June 12, 2020
I would be remiss to not point out that based on the current climate, it feels like a knee-jerk reaction and a result of societal pressure. This announcement, without any further commitments regarding diversity, sweepingly brushes deeper issues under the rug .— Rachel Lindsay (@TheRachLindsay) June 12, 2020
Until we see action to address the systemic racism within the franchise, 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.— Rachel Lindsay (@TheRachLindsay) June 12, 2020
I look forward to hearing more about the additional efforts the franchise plans to make towards change.— Rachel Lindsay (@TheRachLindsay) June 12, 2020
ABC, the parent company of both the Bachelor franchise and GMA, said James was originally cast as one of the suitors competing for the heart of former contestant Clare Crawley. That season would have premiered last spring, but it was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement to GMA, president of ABC Entertainment Karey Burke said, “Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’s season. When filming couldn’t move forward as planned, we were given the benefit of time to get to know Matt and all agreed he would make a perfect Bachelor.”
In an interview Friday on Good Morning America, after the announcement was made, Lindsay detailed some of the changes she’d like to see.
“I want producers of color,” Lindsay said. “I’d like for them to cast leads that are interested in dating outside of their race that aren’t just getting their first-time experience — for the first time — on national TV. I need the acknowledgment of that. Not putting a band-aid over the situation and just saying, ‘Here, we’re going to put this here. Are you happy now?’”
Just last week, Lindsay said the “whitewashed” show essentially had no choice but to name a black star for the new season.
“I think that they have to, at this point, give us a black Bachelor for Season 25. You have to. I don’t know how you don’t,” she said on AfterBuzz TV. “And it’s been asked of me, will I continue in this franchise if it continues in this way? I can’t. I have to see some type of change. It’s ridiculous. It’s embarrassing. At this point, it’s embarrassing to be affiliated with it.”
Fans, too, have called for a change. More than 87,000 of them signed a petition, posted June 8, demanding more diversity in front and behind the show’s cameras.
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