"As women we can get so zeroed in on a specific type, but if you cast the net wider, you never know what you're gonna catch."
It’s been quite a roller coaster on this season of The Bachelorette as Rachel Lindsay made history as the show’s first Black lead. Thankfully she ultimately found her guy – which will be revealed in a few weeks. The show was not without its drama, including a few of the Black contestants discussing if she preferred to date non-Black men and racists tweets from contender Lee being revealed after he was on the show. Rachel takes our questions on dating as a Black woman while the world watches.
How did you open yourself up to dating men of different backgrounds?
Most people are meeting me for the first time on national TV. And from watching me on Nick's season and then on my season, you really don't know the type of men that I dated. I previously had a specific type. I said it to (contestant) Will on our one-on-one date, "I typically dated African-American men." But if you watch the show, you don't necessarily see that. As a single woman in my 20s, I was dating a particular type of man. Once I turned 30, I opened that up because I was closing myself off to great men. As women we can get so zeroed in on a specific type, but if you cast the net wider, you never know what you're gonna catch.
The first episode had you all sweet, but that DeMario situation with his not-quite ex showing up on the show brought out another side of you. Were you conscious of code switching?
I hate that I had to be in that whole DeMario situation, but I do love that you see all sides of me. And I think I said it to Eric on a one-on-one time. "I'm not always Rachel, the lawyer. I'm not Rachel, The Bachelorette." There are different levels to this and that was one of them that you saw with DeMario. If I need to go there, I will go there, but I don't have to all the time. And that's why I'm very happy with the way you see me on the show. It really is me. I don't hide my facial expressions. I am very outspoken, and I challenge the guys. That helped them step up to the plate too with me. I had a really good group of guys.
How did you feel after the fact seeing all of the drama around Lee and his offensive tweets prior to coming on the show?
For the guys who would approach me with drama that was going on in the house or other men, that was a big turnoff to me. And with Lee, he did that pretty early. So for me, I really didn't see that as being somebody who was long-term. Lee was good when he was with me one-on-one, so I was shocked when I did see all of the stuff. Contrary to popular belief, I don't know what's going on in the house. And nobody knew about those tweets. So, yeah, I was shocked. I was confused. I was disgusted. And I was trying to figure out what was the motivation behind it. Why were you on the show? Clearly there needs to be some type of education, not just regarding race, but also gender, sexuality, all of that. I'd be more than happy to give it to him.
We know you find love on the show and are excited to see who you've chosen. Have you started wedding planning?
I've never thought about Rachel, the bride. I've never been one of those girls who plan their storybook wedding and how it’s all gonna go. Now the bachelorette party, I’m 100% ready, but not necessarily the wedding just yet. Honestly, I am so ready to be out and in the open with my fiancé.
Watch the final episodes as Rachel finds love as The Bachelorette Mondays at 8pm EST on ABC.
Charreah K. Jackson is ESSENCE Senior Editor, Lifestyle and Relationships and the author of Boss Bride: The Powerful Woman’s Playbook for Love and Success. Catch her live tweeting #TheBachelorette at @Charreah. #teamPeter