As inevitable as death and taxes, The Bachelor and Bachelorette franchises will face blackface-related backlash or some other racist scandal nearly every goddamn season. And just one episode in, Zach Shallcross’ season, which premiered on Monday, is no exception: Within hours of receiving the coveted first impression rose on night one, contestant Greer Blitzer, a medical sales rep from Houston, had to fire up the ol’ Notes app to share an apology for (drumroll please)...previously defending blackface.
Blitzer’s Monday night apology appeared to be in reference to a Reddit thread highlighting old tweets of hers regarding Halloween costumes involving blackface. The screenshotted tweets notably don’t include a date. “The students involved didn’t even know what black face was so my point exactly. It wasn’t an intentional racist act,” she wrote in one tweet. In another defending the students: “She did not paint herself black because she felt superior to black [people].” And in a third, she wrote: “Putting white powder on your face isn’t okay either. That didn’t make the news did it?”
Even as a very prolific tweeter, myself, I’m pretty shocked by the sheer volume of tweets about just one topic. It’s especially concerning that the topic in question is… defending blackface. The same Reddit thread also included photos appearing to show Blitzer supporting Donald Trump and celebrating his victory over Hillary Clinton on election night in 2016.
In Blitzer’s Monday night Instagram post, she apologized to people her past comments have hurt—“especially those within the Black community”—and stressed that she was sorry not because she got caught, but because she’d “shared those harmful opinions at all.”
“Time and age do not excuse my actions, but this is not a reflection of who I am today. I do not stand by or condone the damaging opinions and behaviors I shared during that stage of my life and will forever regret making those offensive remarks,” the note continues.
I don’t find the revelation of yet another Bachelor contestant having a racist past particularly surprising—what I am surprised by is the speed and efficacy with which the internet dug it all up this time. Racist scandals in Bachelor nation are so prolific that they could amount to a separate reality show of their own, but we usually have to wait until, like, midseason at least—sometimes, even as late as the “After the Final Rose” or “Men/Women Tell All” episodes—before people start getting outed.
In 2017, we saw Bachelorette Rachel Lindsey address a contestant at “After the Final Rose” about his past, highly offensive tweets including one sharing a petition to recognize Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization. In 2018, the recipient of Becca Kufrin’s final rose was outed for previously “liking” and sharing a host of tweets either dunking on trans people or school shooting survivors. In 2020, Matt James and his pick Rachael Kirkconnell briefly split over revelations that she’d participated in a plantation-themed sorority event. And last year, Bachelorette Gabby Windey’s pick, Erich Schwer, was exposed for wearing a blackface costume a few years ago. So, Blitzer may not exactly be in good company, but she’s certainly in company.
I don’t think it’s enough to just shrug off all the contestants with racist histories as some cutesy, recurring coincidence in Bachelor nation. Contestants of color have spoken out about mistreatment on the show, and, heck, the whole reason Jesse Palmer is hosting right now instead of Chris Harrison, who hosted the show for nearly 20 years, is that Harrison attempted to white-man-splain racism to Lindsey in a contentious, wildly offensive interview in 2021.
Even as the franchise continues to very performatively “reform” itself in the public eye, it continues to run into the same problems, over and over again—possibly because some of the people most drawn to join reality dating shows might be on the more ignorant side, but also inevitably because the people running this circus don’t really seem to care all that much.