In a rare move for a show that's long avoided addressing its own lack of diversity, The Bachelorette aired a frank conversation about race between Tayshia Adams and Ivan Hall during Tuesday night's episode. Though Tayshia didn't explicitly mention the Black Lives Matter protests that took place across the U.S. over the summer, she became emotional while talking about her experiences growing up as a biracial woman in Orange County, California. "I’m realizing that I spent my whole life trying to blend in because I knew I was different," she told Ivan through tears. "Hearing people yelling 'Black Lives Matter' [at the protests] hit me more than I realized because those are people in my backyard. I’ve been trying to prove for so long that I’m the same as them."
Ivan — who revealed that he was often called the n-word at his mostly white college — also opened up about the brutality his younger brother experienced in prison. He said he was stunned by the nationwide reaction to George Floyd's death in May. "I never thought in our lifetime that so many people would come together for one common cause. Especially in our country."
It was an unexpected — but welcome — moment for Bachelor fans, albeit one that's long overdue. In June, a group of fans and franchise alums launched an online petition demanding more racial parity on the show both onscreen and behind the camera. As part of their demands, The Bachelor Diversity Campaign asked that the show "feature BIPOC contestants, including their experiences as BIPOC, on the show as storylines," which is something that has been sorely missing from past seasons.
Rachel Lindsay, who was the first Black Bachelorette in 2017, has been one of the most vocal critics about the show's lack of diversity. "It’s ridiculous. It’s embarrassing. At this point, it’s embarrassing to be affiliated with it," she told AfterBuzz in June. “You continue to perpetuate this type of behavior when you’re putting out something that is very white-washed and doesn’t have any type of color in it and you’re not trying to be effective and change that."
In addition to asking for more representation, Rachel has also advocated for ABC to do more to support its leads and contestants of color, pointing out that she had "a racist contestant" competing on her season. "[It] is one of the things that I'm fighting for for Matt James as the first Black Bachelor, for them to do a better job at vetting contestants. You need a person of color in the decision room making decisions so that doesn't happen to them," she explained during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live, adding that she received "nasty messages [and] trolling" from Bachelorette fans.
Bachelor producers pledged to make "significant changes" to address the lack of diversity on the franchise shortly after Matt had been cast, and showing Tayshia and Ivan's conversation is one (small) step in the right direction. Whether or not they'll continue to follow through with their pledge, we'll have to wait and see.