Chris Harrison and The Bachelor’s History of Racism

On February ninth, Extra uploaded a video to its YouTube channel, of Rachel Lindsay interviewing Chris Harrison, in which they discussed the racist past of Bachelor season 25 contestant, Rachel Kirkconnel.

During this interview, former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay asks Harrison for his thoughts on the allegations of racism against Kirkconnel, and he replies in ways that have offended many. In one 14 minute clip, Harrison manages to defend attending old south antebellum parties, denounce ‘cancel culture,’ and push back against those calling for accountability from people who have committed racist acts. All this while Harrison also acts in ways to belittle and talk down to Rachel Lindsay, the host of this program, and a Black woman.

Following the release of this interview, those inside and out of Bachelor nation have called on ABC to fire Chris Harrison, and to recast the show’s host (Harrison has since said in a statement that he will be stepping aside from hosting duties for an undisclosed period of time). While these actions are completely warranted following his showing in this interview, a metaphorical crucifixion of Harrison does not erase the sins of The Bachelor and ABC, past and present.

During the summer of 2020, when much of the country seemed inspired not only to learn more about things such as racial justice and anti-racism, but to act them out, much of The Bachelor fandom called for the show to cast its first Black lead. Rachel Lindsay; the first Black Bachelorette, was a central voice in these calls, stating that she would not continue her work with the franchise if season 25 did not have a lead of color.

That much of the fandom needed to push ABC and The Bachelor to cast its first male lead of color after 18 years and 24 seasons, only points to the huge lack of diversity, not only in the leads, but in the show’s contestants as well. Since 2002, The Bachelor has portrayed an image to America that has been largely without people of color, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, disabled people, people who aren’t skinny and fit, and people with religious beliefs outside of Christianity. Exclusion of those outside of these groups is limited at best throughout the franchise’s history.

ABC and The Bachelor’s suspension of Chris Harrison following his racist actions in the interview with Rachel Lindsay, is fair and a step in the right direction, but it is far from resolving the issues which have plagued the series since its inception. Hopefully this is viewed by those in power, as well as the members of Bachelor nation as only one step, and not a cure-all.