Why Rachel Lindsay Was 'Disturbed' Seeing Matt James & His Dad's Talk
Rachel Lindsay is calling out The Bachelor for its latest episode. Following Monday night’s Fantasy Suite episode, the former Bachelorette came out against the show for airing a conversation between Matt James and his dad, Manny.
During Matt and Manny’s conversation, the Bachelor emotionally confronted his dad on being absent throughout his childhood. The talk ended with Manny apologizing to his son, and Matt saying it was a good “first step” in their relationship.
For Rachel, though, she said on the Bachelor Party podcast that she felt “so disturbed” after watching the father-son conversation on TV.
“I felt it in my soul, and I had to speak out about it because I am so disturbed at what I just watched take place on the Bachelor stage, the conversation between Matt and his father,” Rachel said, before sharing that a major issue she had with the moment was that it lacked context about who both Matt and his father are.
“What’s the one thing we know about his dad? That he wasn’t around. That’s it. That’s all we know, which, if you know anything about stereotypes that are assigned to particular races, here, the Black race, you know that absentee fathers is a stereotype,” she said. “… Matt can’t get to the next level until he has this conversation. That’s how this is being presented to us.”
Rachel went on to question “who greenlit” the moment and wondered if the franchise’s announced diversity consultant had any sort of say.
“If the Bachelor franchise has shown us anything, it’s that they don’t know how to protect people of color, they only know how to exploit them,” Rachel said. “They only know how to mishandle situations when they come to race. That is what they’ve shown time and time again. This should’ve never been aired for America to see.”
Rachel next addressed “people who would say that we’re exaggerating,” telling such individuals that “this is one of those times that you should just sit and listen to what people who have been stereotyped in this way have to say.”
“The stereotype of Black fathers being absentee and Black children being fatherless is deeply rooted in American society,” she said. “The fact that we don’t know… much about Matt, but what we do know is that he fits into one of these stereotypes that we have for Black people. People who assume certain things of the Black family. And now we meet his father for the first time and he and Matt are having this full-out argument about how he wasn’t around.”
Rachel noted that producers of the series would likely say that the conversation was “necessary” for Matt to have before moving forward in his relationships. While Rachel conceded that point, she said that it’s a conversation that should’ve happened privately.
“Maybe Matt did need this, but this was a conversation that should have been just for Matt, not for the rest of the world to see,” she said. “It shows that you don’t care about your contestants. Specifically, the ones of color. The fact that you were so willing to throw him under the bus and exploit him and stereotypes within the community for what you would call ‘good TV.'”
Rachel, who’s been taking a self-imposed “hiatus” from the franchise amid its ongoing racism controversy, said she was left “almost enraged” that the show would try to tackle such an issue, given its current scandal with contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s past racist actions and host Chris Harrison’s defense of them.
“The fact that they cannot see the underlying issues… It’s not even that they probably can’t see them, they don’t care,” she said of the show’s producers. “… I think that they focused more on the fact that this was the first time we saw different emotions from Matt… This moment broke Matt. Of course they wanted to show it.”
“… You could see that Matt was nervous to do it, and you could see that his dad was extremely uncomfortable being there. It just shouldn’t have taken place,” she said. “And to add to it everything that’s surrounding the franchise right now, you still thought you could talk about race.”
The conversation, Rachel said, goes against the franchise’s previously stated want to diversify.
“You’re saying that you want to make it more inclusive, you’re saying that you want to diversify, you’re saying that you want to be a place where people of color feel comfortable coming on the show and that their stories can be told in a way that would protect them and that we can trust them, yet then you show us something like this,” she said. “It’s just wild to me. It’s wild… We trust that we will be protected, and then you just exploit us.”
“… I feel really bad for Matt,” she added. “… The fact that this historic season has been overshadowed by so much negativity and drama and talked about in an unprecedented way for all the wrong reasons, is so bad.”
Rachel also said that she knows “for a fact that Matt was uncomfortable with this conversation and the fact that it was going to be aired.” Matt himself seemed to confirm as much in tweets on Monday, which Rachel praised as “powerful” and “well said.”
“Tonight’s convo with my dad was hard to experience, and it’s just as hard to watch all this time later, especially knowing the world is watching with me,” Matt wrote. “I just wanted to say that too often, we see dangerous stereotypes and negative depictions of Black fathers in media. And they have consequences when presented without context.”
“All I hope is that people watch that conversation with nuance, care, and also an understanding that there are real systemic issues at play,” he added. “I’m so proud of myself for being vulnerable, and I’m so proud of my mother. I wouldn’t be who I am without my dad. That’s a fact.”
Rachel then reiterated her call for the franchise to cease filming until “they can handle these type of issues and until they want to do it in a serious way,” though she did note that those involved in the next season of The Bachelorette are currently quarantining and preparing to film the season.
“There is a level of awareness and we’re talking about certain stereotypes that have been perpetuated in this society when it comes to Black men. The Bachelor put it front and center in the worst way tonight,” she said. “… I just don’t think that things have been fixed in the right way. I think anybody who’s standing up for change, I don’t understand how you could be a part of this current season. Because, as we have seen in this episode, there’s still so much work to be done.”
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