Rachel Lindsay, 35, is talking about the hateful racism she encountered as the first Black Bachelorette. “[I got it] from the audience…a lot of nasty messages trolling,” Rachel admitted to Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live. “I definitely experienced it when it came to picking the men. My husband [Bryan Abasolo] is Colombian so I got a lot of racism towards the fact that we were in an interracial relationship,” she added.
The lawyer made headlines back in 2017 for being the first Bachelor or Bachelorette of color, and remains the franchise’s only Black lead to this day. While season 21 was definitely a success for Rachel when it came to finding love, it was unfortunately discovered that one of the contestants, Lee Garrett, had made racist tweets prior to the start of the series. “I did have a racist contestant on my season,” Rachel explained. “They said they hadn’t done a good job of vetting out that he was racist or had done racist things in the past — but I would hope in the future it would never happen again. They received a lot of heat from that,” the Dallas, Texas native noted. Lee was removed from the series two weeks into production.
“One of the things that I’m fighting for with Matt James as the first Black Bachelor is for them to do a better job of vetting contestants. You need a person of color in the decision room so that doesn’t happen to them,” Rachel explained to Andy and Senator Cory Booker. Prior to the announcement of Matt, Rachel had been actively advocating producers to diversify the long running reality series in front of and behind the camera — and while she’s thrilled to see the first Black Bachelor, she questions the timing.
“It does seem like a reaction to what’s happening in our country. Did a man have to die in such a public way on a national stage for you to say ‘now is the time to have a Black Bachelor?” she asked, referencing the murder of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN. “That’s what I hate — it’s taking away from this moment. What I wanted was some acknowledgement and some recognition that they’ve been wrong in part of the problem and that they’re going to vow to take the necessary changes to bring diversity internally and to more contestants of color on the show.”
Producers and ABC have since responded to Rachel about making some serious changes to the show. “They told me that they heard me. And that they are wanting to do more and make changes. And they actually did release a statement after they announced [Matt James], and that they’re vowing to make changes internally and to have more contestants of color,” Rachel added.