After Will and Kenny's surprising eliminations on The Bachelorette, a puzzling trend has emerged. Eric is the only black man left on The Bachelorette fighting for Rachel's heart. This season was supposed to be all about increasing representation and having a more diverse season... and now the field is, as usual, looking pretty white. This is the inherent paradox in trying to make a more racially representative season of a competitive dating TV show. Love is not easy to find, especially when you're dating on a TV show. Rachel can't control that, say, Anthony was a very nice but also very bland person that she didn't feel sparks with (the same is true for most of the white guys she eliminated), while she clearly wants to jump into a hot tub and make out with Peter.
And while it's understandable that fans are annoyed about having to watch yet another white-dominated season of the show, even after so much was made about having a black Bachelorette, ultimately the decisions are in Rachel's hands. I mean, after Will brought up the fact that he primarily dates white women when asked a fairly innocuous question about what he looks for in a significant other, it wasn't that surprising to me that Rachel sent him home.
So no, Rachel doesn't have to pick a man of color in order for this season of The Bachelorette to be successful. Honestly, it would be revolutionary if this black woman just managed to make it through this season and find someone, anyone, who really cares about her and loves her — because she's the first who has been given that shot. If Rachel falls in love with a camera operator in the finale and they elope, I'll be happy. A happy ending for someone who isn't white is what PoC fans have been missing from the whole Bachelor phenomenon.
But after Rachel's season ends, what does need to happen is that the franchise needs to keep making up for lost time. There need to be more nonwhite people on this show. This cannot be pigeonholed as the "diverse" season, and if it is, fans like me will be very disappointed.
The good news is, this season has plenty of guys to choose from for the next Bachelor, or for the next Nick Vialls that crash season after season. Kenny is probably the most likable of the eliminated men, but if Eric sticks around longer, he might have the chance to make an impression the same way Rachel did on Nick's season. And while Josiah came across as an immature and overconfident, it's possible he could return after a few years saying that he's grown and is really ready to settle down.
Institutional change is always important. The Bachelorette may just be an institution of reality television, but it needs to remain mindful of how its casting impacts future seasons. The cliche that people of color don't make it to the end may wind up being true on Rachel's season... but if The Bachelor and The Bachelorette really want meaningful change, they'll start by making it so Rachel's diverse cast of suitors is the new normal for seasons to come.