Is America ready for a black 'Bachelorette'?
“This complaint is baseless and without merit,” the statement read. “In fact, we have had various participants of color throughout the series’ history, and the producers have been consistently — and publicly — vocal about seeking diverse candidates for both programs. As always, we continue to seek out participants of color for both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.”
A U.S. District Judge dismissed the lawsuit stating that casting decisions were protected by the First Amendment.
My guess is that right now Harris’ fate lies with the court of public opinion. Can she gain enough support from Americans of all races? Are Americans ready to see twenty-five to thirty handsome, successful men of all races vie for a black woman’s heart in a manner that is serious and romantic, rather than comical?
Such a show would inherently promote the idea that black women are desirable. It disrupts the cultural narratives in media — that some see as propaganda — promoting the expectation that African-American women should be perpetually single. It de-emphasizes the standard of a white, fair-haired woman as the epitome of female beauty and worthiness, a standard which fuels billions of dollars in sales of hair dye, hair extensions, and skin-bleaching creams globally. This beauty ideal also contributes to the absence of black women from the ranks of the highest paid models and actresses, where our form of beauty tends to be an occasional exotic trend rather than embraced as an everyday normality.
I believe that the American people are indeed ready for a black bachelorette, because nearly 10 percent of married black women in the United States are married interracially, for starters. Thus, the sight of a non-black man with a black woman is becoming less and less of an oddity. Americans have also shown a keen interest in high profile relationships involving black women, such as first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama. Beyonce and Jay Z, Naomi Campbell and Russian billionaire Vladimir Doronin, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith and Mellody Hobson and George Lucas make up more celebrity couples featuring black women the public can’t get enough of.
Finally, a network television show about a high-powered black female power broker having an affair with the white male leader of the free world (aka, Scandal) garners eight million viewers per episode. This reveals that placing a beautiful, intelligent and romantically attractive black woman in a leading role can produce top ratings.
Let’s just hope that ABC and the producers of The Bachelorette realize that.
Even if Ms. Harris is not selected, after eight years, the question of why a woman of color has never been a bachelorette deserves an answer. Even if the producers of the show are legally protected by the First Amendment, the court of public opinion, which is shifting in demographics and taste, will still require satisfaction due to today’s multicultural ideals.
(Editor’s note: A spokesman for ABC declined to comment on this story after being approached by theGrio.)
Ama Yawson is a co-founder of Loveessence.com, a dating site for black women who are interested in interracial relationships, and those interested in dating them. Ms. Yawson has earned a BA from Harvard University, an MBA from the Wharton School and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two sons.