The Bachelorettes Are Beefing: Racism Edition

Illustration for article titled iThe Bachelorette/is Are Beefing: Racism Edition
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It’s been well established that the best Bachelor beef happens off-screen. With the cameras absent, thoughtless social media posting resumes. If you, like myself, are far too busy to turn on notifications for every Instagram influencer created by the franchise, you might’ve missed that Rachel Lindsay, The Bachelor’s first black Bachelorette and one-time co-host of the unfairly maligned MTV show Ghosted: Love Gone Missing, is feuding with Hannah Brown, the most recent Bachelorette – a woman infamous for picking a dude with a girlfriend and then no one. Allegedly the back-and-forth began over an Lindsay’s attempt to aid Brown’s recovery from a racist remark, which clearly didn’t go as planned.

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Confused? I was too! Let’s break it down.

Saturday, May 16

Hannah Brown logs onto Instagram Live, like any bored reality TV celebrity might do during these long days of social distancing, and speak-sings along to DaBaby’s hit “Rockstar,” n-word and all. Her fans alerted her to the alleged slip-up and she apologized while chuckling to someone off-screen. But the video wasn’t much of an apology, just less than a minute of incoherent rambling.

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“I really don’t think I said that word. I don’t think I said that word, but now I’m like, oh god. I’d never use that word. I’ve never called anybody that. We don’t say that word....,” she said to her livestream. “So, you know what, I’m going to stay here, and y’all can think I said whatever I did or think I’m something I’m not, but I’m not that.” It looks like she might be at a quarantine party, another cause for concern. Anyway, the internet never forgets, so that’s here:

Sunday, May 17

Brown, perhaps realizing that her “apology” was nonsensical, posted a proper apology on her Instagram story, writing, “I owe you all a major apology. There is no excuse, and I will not justify what I said. I have read your messages and seen the hurt that I have caused. I own it all.”

On the same day, Rachel Lindsay went on Instagram Live to explain that she spoke to Brown, asking her to apologize on Instagram Live. Brown’s apology had been written, not filmed but Lindsay did share a few words of wisdom to her audience:

“That word was used to make black people feel less than... it was used to make them feel inferior... and every time you use that word and you are not black, you give that word power, and that is why it is wrong. I don’t care if you are singing along to it in a song... Non-black people should not feel OK about saying that word. It’s wrong. You wouldn’t say it on TV. You wouldn’t say it in front of your black friends.”

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Monday, May 25

Lindsay goes on former Bachelor Nick Viall’s podcast, The Viall Files, to break down exactly what happened between her and Hannah Brown and it does not look great:

When Hannah and I talked, she wanted to know what my thought was as to what she should do. She said, “I want to ask you.” And she was very remorseful. She was very upset. She was embarrassed. She was admitting she was wrong, and she said she wanted to go on a Live. She was going to go first and then bring me on. Twice, she got off the phone with me to tell me, “OK, I’m going to go do it. I’m just going to go get ready.” Hours later, nothing. Then, we would talk on the phone. And then, hours later, nothing again until it was ultimately decided she wanted to do a statement...

The reason it disappointed me so much that Hannah decided to give a statement is because, her words, “A statement would be insincere.” Hannah said that. “It felt icky to give a statement.” And I believed her when she said it. And it was her team that was advising her to give a statement. And she said, in her heart, she didn’t feel it was that way, and she felt that God had wanted her to use her platform for a bigger purpose. And she was going to step up and do that. So, to see her ultimately text me and say, “I’m going to give a statement” was extremely disappointing because, you yourself, said that that was insincere. So why did you therefore decide to do an insincere action? I’m very confused by that.

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That same day, a representative for Brown told E!, “Hannah is extremely upset and embarrassed over the situation. She hadn’t realized what she’d done until after the fact and is so disappointed in herself. It was a huge mistake and she feels awful.” Hannah herself has remained silent.

Thursday, May 28

While hosting her podcast, Higher Learning With Van Lathan and Rachel Lindsay, Lindsay said that Brown is “empowered by an audience,” according to E!, and because of that, “She’s going to go right back to doing what she was doing before.” Make of that what you will, but she also said she hasn’t heard from Brown since. “She needs to refer to her team,” she said on the podcast, “because that’s what she’s done from here on out.”

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It will be interesting if Brown responds, but like any Bachelor celebrity past and present, she will probably wait for someone else in Bach Nation to slip up and take that attention. So it goes!

No. Senior Writer, Jezebel. My debut book, LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands, is out now.

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DISCUSSION

radiorebel
radio rebel

Weird to treat this as “the best Bachelor beef” and a fun topic of gossip, as though it’s not a legitimate social issue simply because it revolves around stars of The Bachelor.

A few things: Hannah’s “apology” also included her failing to remember even saying the word and then proceeding to blame it on her brother. Also noteworthy is the fact that she censored the word “fuck” but didn’t censor the N-word while singing the lyrics. The entire incident was even more grossly racist than depicted here. And her behavior and her fans’ subsequent defense of it (Rachel, and other Bachelor Nation people speaking up, have been the target of vitriolic, racist messages on social media) are the types of actions that discourage people from speaking up against what’s wrong for fear of backlash. It’s really not something that should be taken lightly.

During a time when racism is continuing to flourish, it feels weird and tone-deaf to downplay an instance of covert white supremacy as a silly example of Bachelor beef and to write it off by saying, “So it goes!”

(In advance of inevitable comments: yes, I am fun at parties. No, I am not trying to be a killjoy. I just think that being so flippant and jokey towards racism simply because it occurred within Bachelor Nation is a really damaging tone to write with.)