Race and The Bachelor Part 2: Dissecting Rachael K's Actions and Why They Matter

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

In case you're not following The Bachelor the TL;DR is that a Rachael K, a finalist in the season known as The One With the First Black Bachelor, has a problematic past in regards to race. This includes but is not limited to: attending an Old South antebellum party (background), allegedly making fun of women for dating Black men, and supporting Tr*mp. Let's break this down.

Actually - before we get into this I want to address a comment I have seen all over the internets: "but she's dating a Black man, how can she be racist?". I don't know if y'all missed this but Ted Bundy was married to a woman, plenty of sexist misogynist men are married to women, slave owners fathered children with slaves, the list can go on and on and on of why proximity is not a get out of jail free card. And while we're on the topic, dating a Black person or marrying a Black person or parenting Black children not only does NOT excuse you from the work, it requires you to double down on the work. A lot of people don't though, and that's where real harm is caused. 

Exhibit A: attending Old South and other problematic parties. 

Look, I went to college in Georgia where Old South was a thing. While I never attended Old South, I fcked up in plenty of other ways. A big part of racial reconciliation and becoming an antiracist is coming to terms with our role in white supremacy and things we have done that hurt BIPOC. This means digging into our past and naming it, it means sitting with feelings of guilt and shame, it means learning, it means apologizing, and it means making a path forward to do better and hold others accountable. No one has been doing this perfectly and we are all constantly learning (as we should be). A lot of us would make different decisions with information we understand now, but we didn't and so we take responsibility for what we did, apologize to those we have hurt, and do everything in our power to make it better. That's it. That's the message. 

If you're thinking what's the big deal, she attended some parties when she was young? Please take some time to read other people's perspectives. Van Lathan had an excellent point that we don't see Germans dressed up at "1941 European" themed parties - we would all be appalled! Why do we excuse people dressed up for Old South Antebellum themed parties? I believe most people attended parties like this without thinking much about it and without any intention of hurting anyone, but intention rarely equals impact. The road to hell is paved with good intentions which is why we have to learn and stay vigilant. We aren't our mistakes, but we do have to own our mistakes.

Exhibit B: making fun of women for dating Black men. 

This is an allegation made on Tik Tok so who knows, but this type of "joke" is pretty common so let's break down the problematic parts of commentary like this.

Part 1: Othering

Othering is a phenomenon in which some individuals or groups are defined and labeled as not fitting in within the norms of a social group. It is an effect that influences how people perceive and treat those who are viewed as being part of the in-group versus those who are seen as being part of the out-group.

Othering not only dehumanizes groups of people, it is a contributor to prejudice and racism.

Part 2: Fetishization

Fetishizing on a basic level is the sexualization of something, which can then make it desirable.

Look, fetishes are fine - you do you boo! However, fetishizing groups of people makes us think of these groups of people as "conquerable" and dehumanizes them in our eyes. Fetishizing Black people is as American as apple pie, and it is dangerous. 

Part 3: Centering of whiteness

The centering of whiteness happens when we decide "white is right". We see this type of centering in professional standards ('professional' hair styles that exclude locs and natural hair), how we expect people to speak, food we deem acceptable for events, etc. etc. It shows up everywhere, and this is a prime example of how it shows up in our personal lives.

If these allegations are true, did she mean to hurt anyone? What if it was just a joke? Regardless of intentions or how serious she was, it was said and it was an idea that was in her conscience. We all have biases like this in our heads which is why the reading and the workshops and the learning is so so important. Even when we make jokes about race, we perpetuate ideas and make these types of comments acceptable. If you hear someone make a comment like this, the appropriate response can be:

"That's not funny."

"That's hurtful."

"That is not appropriate. I understand you are making a joke, but it is harmful."

Exhibit C: supporting Tr*mp.

I'm not clear if anyone actually found evidence of this or if this is based on her parents political affiliations, but let's talk about why our votes matter. I hear all the time how divisive labeling Republicans as racist is, but unfortunately this is where we are. Sure there can be Republicans who aren't racist, but people who supported Tr*mp in the 2020 election actively cast a vote for racism and Black suppression. If their reason for voting that way was "the economy" or "taxes" or whatever you want to use, it was a vote for their own economic success at the expense of minorities. Quite American but not ok. 


If you're white, it's likely that you have massively messed up at some point in regards to race. I don't believe these things make Rachael K a bad person, but these things do mean she has a lot of work to do. She offered an apology and it's not mine to to accept, but I hope she follows it up with actual actions unlike other members of the franchise (*eye roll* Hannah). 

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