This Huge Interracial Dating Taboo Was Exposed on 'The Bachelor' Last Night

March 14th 2017

Almie Rose

Rachel Lindsay, the first black "Bachelorette" of the popular "The Bachelor" television franchise was thrown into an awkward encounter on live TV before her show even premiered.

As part of a special, Lindsay was featured on "After the Final Rose" a sort of "Bachelor" TV reunion. Though Lindsay's "The Bachelorette" series doesn't premiere until May 22, the producers mixed things up when they introduced her to four of her suitors right there on the show.

"I’m hoping that as a black 'Bachelorette' you’re going to get to see a more diverse cast, a cast that’s reflective of what America looks like," Lindsay told The Hollywood Reporter on March 7, "and not just 'Bachelor Nation' or whatever else, but what America looks like."

But this first glimpse of the show's cast got awkward pretty quickly.

One of her suitors, a white man named Dean, tried to woo Lindsay with the line, "I’m ready to go black and I’m never going to go back."

Lindsay took it in stride, laughing, but Twitter thought the moment was "cringe worthy" — deeming the encounter as racial fetishism, which is "loosely defined as having an unnatural preoccupation or obsession with cultural and/or physical characteristics of a race other than one’s own," according to The Root.

Writer Yesha Callahan of The Root's The Grapevine explained what was so problematic about Dean's comment:

"As a black woman who has dated interracially for the majority of her life, I have been fortunate enough not to come across men who fetishize black women by saying stupid shit like Dean.

Seriously, the moment was cringeworthy to me, but to Rachel not so much, as she laughed it off and thought it was cute. But I’m going to chalk that up to her not having any experience when it comes to interracial dating, as she’s previously stated."

"Racial fetishism is hardly a new concept," wrote Christine Mwaturura for MadameNoire.

While some saw Dean's comment simply a bad joke, others saw it as an example of racial fetishism.

"On an individual level, a person can’t really control who turns them on  —  and almost everyone has a 'type,' one way or another. But I do think the trend  —  that fact that race is a sexual factor for so many individuals, and in such a consistent way  —  says something about race’s role in our society," according to an OKCupid blog from September 2014.

"It’s well documented that Black women suffered horrendous sexual crimes at the hands of colonial and slave masters as Black women were often merely regarded, by their oppressors, as objects of sexual gratification," Mwaturura wrote in "'I Have A Thing For Black Girls': The Fine Line Between Being Adored And Racially Festishized," in October 2015. "The hypersexualized images of Black women which have persisted throughout history and into present day media have continued to feed into this monster."

Of course, not everyone in an interracial relationship is in one because of racial fetishism, and no one knows what "The Bachelorette" suitor was actually thinking when he made his comment, or if he was even aware of the implications. But that doesn't mean others aren't having a discussion about race because of the awkward moment, which can hopefully result in more openness about talks of interracial relationships.