Commentary: Is The Bachelor No Place for Black Men?

Though two African-Americans lost their lawsuit against the long-running reality show, that doesn’t mean they’re wrong about its prejudice.

Posted: 10/23/2012 12:32 PM EDT
Christopher Johnson and Nathaniel Claybrooks: Is "The Bachelor" No Place for Black Men?

Christopher Johnson and Nathaniel Claybrooks discuss their lawsuit against ABC's reality TV shows "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo: REUTERS/Harrison McClary)

We all know that television is not the place to look to find ethnic diversity. Regardless of what channel you’re watching, or whether you’re looking for a comedy program or a drama, if you’re not looking at BET, it’s unlikely you’re going to see many programs in which the majority of the cast members are African-American.

 

Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson were tired of it. So they sued the ABC reality television program The Bachelor earlier this year for discriminating against African-Americans. They claimed that they both had aspirations to be the show’s titular bachelor but were turned away because they’re not white. Reports Time’s Adam Cohen:

 

Claybrooks and Johnson said that when they applied to be on the show, they were not seriously considered. Claybrooks said that when he went to a casting call in Nashville, all the other applicants appeared to be white, and while their interviews lasted about 45 minutes, his was ended after just 20 minutes. Johnson said that when he arrived at a casting call also in Nashville, a white employee of the show took his materials and promised to “pass them on” to the casting directors, while white applicants were allowed in and given an interview.

 

Claybrooks and Johnson say they believe the reason they were passed over is because The Bachelor producers are afraid to broach the subject of interracial dating on prime-time television.

 

They may have a point: In 16 seasons on air, The Bachelor has not once starred a man of color. What’s more, its sister show, The Bachelorette, has never starred a woman of color. According to Claybrooks and Johnson, the shows are “examples of purposeful segregation in the media that perpetuates racial stereotypes and denies persons of color of opportunities in the entertainment industry.”

 

Unfortunately for Claybrooks and Johnson, a court ruled that their lawsuit was baseless, saying that TV producers are free to cast whomever they’d like under the First Amendment. Whether it’s protected behavior or not, there are no Black people on The Bachelor, and it’s probably like that because producers are afraid Americans will stop watching the show if interracial dating is at the forefront of it.

 

In that case, Bachelor producers should start reading some newspapers, which would tell them that more Americans than ever before now support interracial dating, just as more people than ever before consider themselves multiracial instead of just one race.

 

Ethnicities blending together have become not just a part of life in America, but a celebrated part of life in America for many people. If that’s something that terrifies The Bachelor, maybe that show should be cancelled before the future becomes too much for it to bear.

 

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

 

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