Of course race would come up with the first Black Bachelorette. Here are the reminders Rachel’s journey to love is serving up
After a two-week hiatus (Congrats Steph Curry and Golden State), The Bachelorette was back for two hours of drama on episode four as Rachel Lindsay looks for love with the most diverse cast ever.
As the show’s first Black Bachelorette it was only a matter of time before race, the elephant in the room, finally made it’s official appearance – and on Juneteenth no less. The reality is America was built on a racist foundation and the enslavement of Black bodies, which seeps into every sector of life in this country. While we hate Rachel can’t just focus fully on finding love, her season is giving viewers a needed refresher on racial dynamics in America (and thankfully she still finds her forever bae through it all!). Here’s what we gathered this week from Rachel and her cast of suitors.
#1 Yes, We Still Have to Be Twice as Good
Our girl Rachel did not hold back from acknowledging the weight of being a “first” for the African American community while the whole world is watching. “The pressures I feel about being a Black woman,” she says through tears. "You have no idea what it's like to be in this position." All of Twitter wanted to give Rachel a hug as she opened up her experiences breaking a new barrier. Whenever you break new ground, there is bound to be dust.
#2 A Racist is As a Racist Does
So much of episode four’s tension stemmed from contestant Lee Garrett who has made headlines because of his racist tweets including comparing Black Lives Matter to a terrorist group and tweeting "What's the difference between the NAACP and the KKK? Wait for it..... one has the sense of shame to cover their racist ass faces." Of course this guy brought all his supremacist behavior to the mansion and had no qualms about crashing Black single dad Kenny’s one on one time Rachel. Later Kenny confronts Lee and takes the bait to get angry, while Rachel listens. Lee has already been quick to use coded language and calling Black men “aggressive.” Cutie Will set the record straight: "When you call him 'aggressive,' there is a long-standing history in this country regarding black men as aggressive to justify a lot of other things." We look forward to Lee going home soon, which Rachel alluded to in her tweets.
#3 You Don’t Have to Be Oppressed to Recognize Oppression
One of the episode’s best moments is when cutie Dean, who is White and woke, called out the fact that Lee only starts arguments with men he’s not used to seeing on a daily basis “from a cultural perspective." When the producers ask him to clarify he replies, "You know exactly what I mean when I say that. The longer Lee sticks around the more everyone will be aware of his intolerance.” Allies are necessary on the continued dismantling of an oppressive system. See something. Say something. And you may get a sexy date on the Goodyear Blimp like Dean did.
#4 Even Hotties Can Serve Microaggressions
While in Hilton Head South Carolina, a few of the fellas go on a group date with Rachel on a boat. After the typical “my chest is better” and push up contests the guys start to freestyle. We see Kenny the wrestler give his best lines followed by Peter, a certified hottie and crowd favorite to win. Seems he and Rachel both having gaps makes them soul mates. Well not so fast as Peter ended his rap saying Rachel is “from the hood.” Whet? Rachel grew up with two church-going parents who are still together in suburbia Dallas where she spent her summers at swimming camps and ran track. Maybe he just had nothing else to rhyme with, but two often the stereotype is all Black people grew up in poverty. Not the case. We expect more from you, Peter.
#5 We're Still Winning and Free
Even with oppression, elections and microaggressions to be Black in 2017 is still to be free and the opportunity to live life for yourself. We were happy to see smart Black men represented as they held down the final round of the Spelling Bee – which started with squirt and included coitus and boudoir. Alright then. Josiah won and received a fabulous trophy, which he was free to make out with and obnoxiously drink from. Do you boo. And we were here for Rachel clapping back on Twitter to trolls as the show aired, including a former Bachelorette contestant asking if the show was Love & Hip Hop. You can stay mad on your couch as Rachel makes history.
Watch 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.