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Real Talk: Rejected by 'The Bachelor'? It's Not That Deep

Two men from Nashville have filed a lawsuit against ABC alleging purposeful discrimination.
Last week, two Black men filed a class-action lawsuit against ABC and the producers of The Bachelor franchise for purposeful discrimination against people of color. Nashville natives Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson say they auditioned for The Bachelor/ette in August 2011 at an open casting call, and believe they were unfairly dismissed because of their race.

Warner Horizon Television, one of the producers of The Bachelor, said the allegations are “baseless and without merit.”

After 23 seasons, The Bachelor has never included a bachelor who is, well, Black. Show creator Mike Fleiss once told Entertainment Weekly that The Bachelor was always open to Black faces, but “it’s just that for whatever reason, they don’t come forward. I wish they would.” Claybrooks and Johnson’s allegations would seem to debunk that assertion.

Still, their lawsuit comes at a curious time, one that makes their accusations against the show sound frivolous. Just earlier this month, a Black bachelor, Lamar Hurd, created an audition video for The Bachelor that went viral. It was reported that producers from the show saw Hurd’s tape and promptly invited him by for a meeting. That seems to shoot down allegations made by Claybrooks and Johnson, and it makes them look a little like they’re whining (and/or paper-chasing) for not getting picked.

Earlier this month, I wrote on Essence.com about how I hoped Hurd was picked as the next Bachelor. I’ve never watched the show, but I like the concept — and all things dating and relationships— and I thought it would be cool to tune in and see a cute Black guy looking for love. Commenters didn’t so much agree. They wondered how many, or even if any, Black women would be selected as potential mates for the Black Bachelor, and also wondered how likely he would be to select a Black woman. Your hopes didn’t seem so high for an Black-on-Black love connection. In the end, the general sentiment was something like, “Do we really need to see a Black guy looking for fake love on TV?”

Touché. But I’d still like to see it happen, and obviously Claybrooks and Johnson would as well. But a lawsuit pushes the issue too far, as do the men’s lawyers as they scrape the bottom of the hyperbole barrel to gather more interest in the lawsuit. The non-Black attorneys representing the men have called the suit a “landmark civil rights case that will move social justice and economic equality forward” and hailed Claybrooks and Johnson as “doing their small part in the Unites States’ journey to be a more inclusive country.”  

Uhh… It’s just not that deep. In fact, it’s insulting for Claybrooks and Johnson to compare actual civil rights issues like racial profiling, gay marriage, or the death penalty to not getting picked to be featured on a cheesy primetime TV show with weakening ratings.  

Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria), in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk