Michelle Young is not the first Black bachelor party. But after 18 seasons, she is the first lead actress of the ABC reality show with two black/biracial men as her final contenders.
While this is an overdue shift for a television franchise that struggles and continues to struggle with race, inclusion and diversity, as Young has said many times before, more importantly her choices reflect a whole world full of people like her and finalists Nayte Olukoya. and Brandon Jones.
Young has also stated in multiple interviews that she had no intention of making history. Instead, she chose the men she had the strongest connections with, and when she chooses the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with on Tuesday 8/7c, he will be black or biracial.
That said, Young’s choices are reassuring to some black viewers who have begun to wonder if? The Bachelor and its sister show, the Bachelor, purposefully created scenarios in which the strongest romantic contenders for the shows’ only black protagonists – Rachel Lindsay, Tayshia Adams and Matt James – were not black.
Intended or not, it certainly sends a message that black romantic leads are only viable and public-worthy if they pick someone who doesn’t share their lineage, while the franchise’s white stars can always pick white partners because they have a bigger pool to choose from. Those kinds of consistent and hard to ignore messages can diminish the cultural identity of people watching and wanting to see love between two people who share racial and cultural experiences and backgrounds.
Young’s heartbreakingly sweet poem about feeling all too often like a “symbolic black girl” growing up in a predominantly white Minneapolis suburb said the same thing, and included a line about being: “the girl who was picked last to prom, but the first for basketball.”
Meanwhile, Olukoya celebrated the show’s historic inclusion as one of Young’s last four black/biracial suitors.
“I know this is not an earth-shattering historic event,” he wrote in an Instagram post. “But I can’t help but think about my experience growing up in Canada. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, attended predominantly white schools, and was raised by my mother and her side of the family. I didn’t see many people who looked like me. And when I did, it was mostly on TV. And many of us know how people who look like me are portrayed on TV.”
Say what you want this to be a silly reality show, but no one just wants to be tolerated when it comes to romance. And love is an emotion and a verb that everyone, regardless of race and ethnic background, should be able to cherish and enjoy.
It’s just nice to see the producers behind the bachelorette finally got the memo about that too.