BREAKING BARRIERS, STEALING HEARTS

When Heauxs offered me the opportunity to write a “think piece” on the upcoming season of The Bachelorette we had a laugh. Bachelorette and think piece seemed a bit like an oxymoron as I had never taken the franchise seriously, let alone try to offer an intellectual spin on it. However, there are a few things to consider when talking about ABC’s latest and first Black bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay: 1) black girls want and deserve love too, 2) they’re willing to put their hearts on the line for it (and have it televised), and 3) it’s high time people recognized this.

I remember when I was in grade school, a White friend of mine, we’ll call her Judy, mentioned I was pretty but I probably wouldn’t have many boyfriends because I was Black. I know, right? That bitch! But before you get self-righteous remember we were in GRADE SCHOOL and that bitch is still my friend. However, as studies have revealed that Black women are the least desirable among racial groups on dating websites, I couldn’t help but reflect on Judy’s innocuous albeit ignorant observation.

We can blame the media for the poor portrayal of Black women, where most acting roles for Black females have been relegated to the help, the prostitute, the hood rat or the junkie. Thank you, Shonda for shattering that image. We can blame the white patriarchal society for creating a standard of beauty that marginalizes women of color. We could even blame the misogynistic undertones in rap music and the entourage of video hos appearing alongside gold chain clad men with no shirts on. Let’s not forget the barrage of reality TV shows that have women clawing each other’s eyes out over a man, a snarky comment or even a simple eye roll. Historically and to be brief, Black women have gotten a raw deal; I could delve deeper but Heauxs said to keep the word count under 1,000.  

As a contestant vying for the love of the most recent bachelor Nick Viall, Rachel defied odds and made history when she not only became the first woman of color to receive the First Impression Rose but also landed herself in the top three with spectators wondering if she would get the final rose and a ring on her finger. Watching Nick and Rachel’s relationship unfold before millions of viewers every Monday night, not only reaffirmed my belief in love, it made me a believer in the franchise. Trust me after he let her go with no real explanation, I was back to being a hater.

But Rachel, a 31-year old lawyer from Dallas, with her beauty, brains and level head, seemed to morph into America’s Sweetheart even before the announcement was made that she would be the next Bachelorette.  So, when she was announced, mind you before she was rejected by Nick, I couldn’t help but wonder (sorry Carrie Bradshaw) “Is Rachel Lindsay the Jackie Robinson of ABC’S dating show franchise?” In a post-racial America can viewers who are mostly white acknowledge that Black women are not only wanted but deserving of love? With the recent promos featuring Rachel twirling in a beautiful red gown and the headline “That’s Our Girl” displayed in rose petals, my answer to both questions is “yes.” One could look back during “The Women Tell-All” taping and hear the overwhelming applause for her as she took the stage, from both her castmates, the audience and even the affection former ‘boyfriend” Nick. But it must be noted in all her Black Girl Magic, Rachel is still the first, all eyes will be on her and let’s face it, the show’s ratings during her tenure.

In the end, with over 30 men clamoring for her affections, Rachel has already destigmatized the ill-conceived notion that Black women are not looking for love, are not deserving of love and are not desirable. Kind of makes me wonder if my good pal Judy will be tuning in.
 

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