For years, the white supremacy that infects American culture has been entrenched in the Bachelor franchise.
You don’t go 24 seasons without a Black male lead by accident.
People may not like to think about it this way when it comes to a beloved reality show, but it’s a choice, and a racist one.
While fans have seen the problem for some time, it has recently become apparent that Chris Harrison is part of that problem.
It’s not just fans calling for Chris’ removal from the franchise – it’s a chorus of voices from people who’ve been on the show.
When Rachael Kirkconnell’s racist social media history was revealed this season, it marked a turning point of sorts.
Chris had the opportunity to handle the situation with aplomb and take the franchise in a different direction.
Instead, he did the opposite.
In addition to repeatedly interrupting and speaking over Rachel Lindsay – the Bachelorette’s first and only Black lead – in an interview, Harrison was painfully dismissive of accusations of racism.
“I haven’t talked to Rachael about it,” Chris protested at the time, referring to Kirkconnell’s past behavior.
Chris then had the gall to say “we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion.”
The longtime host then whined about “again this judge-jury-executioner thing — where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart.”
“Diving into, like, her parents and her parents’ voting record,” Chris complained, making matters worse by the second.
“It’s unbelievably alarming to watch this.”
It’s not surprising to see people leap to the defense of racist misdeeds – even when the original wrongdoer admits that what they did was bad. Racism is thriving in America.
But for Chris, a seasoned reality TV host who knows that he is the face of an entire franchise, it was a baffling choice.
Countless people were disappointed in his comments, although some Bachelor stars were sadly not surprised.
Matt James is the franchise’s first-ever Black Bachelor … on Season 25.
He broke his silence on the matter this week, correctly callinb out Chris for his “troubling and painful” choice to excuse racism.
(He has also, if The Bachelor spoilers are to be believed, broken up with Kirkconnell, the eventual WINNER this season.)
James said: “Chris’s failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explaining the racist history of the Antebellum South.”
He emphasized that this is “a painful history that every American should understand intimately.”
Matt expressed that Chris’ dismissal “was troubling and painful to watch.”
“As Black people and allies immediately knew and understood,” Matt acknowledged, “it was a clear reflection of a much larger issue.”
An issue, he noted, “that The Bachelor franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years.”
And Matt was not the only one to speak out.
Bachelor in Paradise alum Taylor Nolan explained that she surprised that Chris made the public comments … but not that he felt that way.
“I was surprised that he didn’t catch himself,” she expressed to Yahoo Entertainment.
“I was surprised that for as well-trained as he is,” Taylor continued, “that he didn’t know he should probably shut his mouth because he’s about to show himself.”
“He just let his truth out, which many of us already know,” Taylor acknowledged.
“But,” she explained, “he’s never done it in such an overt way.”
“At the same time,” Taylor added, “I’m not surprised he didn’t catch himself because he really believes in what he was saying.”
“He really didn’t think he was saying anything wrong,” Taylor explained.
She characterized: “He thought that was a great conversation!”
It was an infamously bad conversation, and he was absolutely the bad guy in it.
“Who you vote for [does say something about you],” Taylor correctly noted.
(That said, it seems that Rachael herself doesn’t care much about voting)
She added: “I think he was projecting onto Rachael K.”
“These are things that people in the franchise … are well aware of,” Taylor explained.
“That Chris is more conservative, that he’s Republican,” she continued.
Taylor noted “that he’s a very wealthy older white man in a high position of power who has rarely, if ever, shared his power with marginalized groups of people.”
Taylor shared that many contestants of color felt “a little uneasy around” Chris.
“And not just because of his own personal stances, or lack thereof publicly,” she explained.
She detailed: “but also because he represents what the franchise represents.”
Taylor continued: “and the franchise has not represented the BIPOC community.”
She added that the franchise “has not represented the non-heteronormative community.”
Taylor also observed: “and [represents] thin beauty European standards that our mainstream culture holds.”
“Because Chris represents what the franchise represents,” Taylor shared, “I think it’s part of what made this no secret to many individuals.”
Additionally, fan-favorite Ivan Hall from Tayshia Adams’ season, has affirmed that he won’t do Bachelor in Paradise with Chris as host.
Another fan-favorite, Mike Johnson, expressed that Chris should be “removed” from the franchise.
Time will tell if he will be – or if a franchise with this kind of track record can even continue beyond 2021.