'Bachelorette' Contestant's Shameless Race-Baiting Gets Swiftly Called Out

June 20th 2017

Ngozi Ahanotu

Calling black men and women "aggressive" is still an issue, as revealed in Monday night’s "The Bachelorette" episode.

The dating show's white contestant Lee Garrett’s previously reported Twitter tirade came full circle when he began to antagonize black contestant Kenny King on the Monday episode. The two had a back and forth that appeared to be a typical verbal expression, not confrontation.

However, after the spat, Garrett told the show's bachelorette Rachel Lindsay that King was being "aggressive" and "frightening."

People on Twitter made it known that this type of language when aimed at black men will always be extremely problematic:

The word aggressive is defined as ready or likely to attack or confront; characterized by or resulting from aggression. Using the word "aggressive" towards people of color, black men specifically, is one of several racially coded words that continue the common belief that black men are violent and need to be controlled.

The Guardian discussed the collective belief of many black men’s inability to appear vulnerable, keeping them at risk in situations involving law enforcement and other races. A recent study lends the term "aggressive" to the biased belief that black men of the same height, weight, and age are bigger, stronger, and scarier then white men.

Black male victims were usually reported to be perceived to have more strength and aggression than in actuality, according to the study. In 2014, police reports and interviews with law enforcement in the shooting of Tamir Rice offered the same bias as officers and agents believed Rice was much older than 12 years old. The officers involved in the shooting of Dallas teenager Jordan Edwards eventually retracted earlier statements of "aggressive reverse driving" by Edwards, which propelled them to open fire.

This sort of coded language and other words can be dangerous as it can revive the notion that black men must be tamed or are dangerous individuals, both in media and real life.