The Bachelor fans are fully aware by now that Rachel Lindsay is the next Bachelorette and thus she will not end the season engaged to Nick Viall. Yet her hometown date on Monday night's episode was still compelling, because Nick and Rachel addressed the realities of interracial relationships on The Bachelor. The episode featured frank discussions about dating a different race, making Rachel's hometown date on The Bachelor an important segment leading into her Bachelorette season as the first black lead of the franchise.
In the episode, Rachel takes Nick to the church that she belongs to — which is predominantly black — and, afterward, they declare that race is not a major issue to them in their relationship. "I'm not colorblind; I know you're black," Nick tells Rachel. He continues, referencing the moment when he gave her the season's first honor: "But the reason I gave you the First Impression Rose was because of how easy we connected and my attraction to you physically." Rachel echoes his sentiments in the episode, saying, "Everyone else may make this an issue, but for you it doesn't really matter and for me it doesn't matter."
As a mixed race woman, I enjoyed this sweet and happy moment between the interracial couple, because it's rare that viewers see such romances on TV and in movies, even though interracial dating and marriage has been legal since 1967. Fortunately, TV seems to slowly be catching up. Fusion reported that there were at least 13 interracial couples featured on scripted TV shows in 2015.
According to a Pew Research Center analysis in 2014, 6.3 percent of all marriages in the nation are between partners of different races and 37 percent of Americans approve of interracial marriage. Nick and Rachel appearing on TV as a couple can actually help improve that — according to the Huffington Post, a 2014 study by the University of Michigan stated that The Bachelor influenced how fans view and idealize romance.
The Lindsay family, though, brought some unfortunate realities to Rachel and Nick's attention during the rest of the date. Rachel's sister Constance and her husband Alex, who is white, discussed how being an interracial couple in a politically divided country would have challenges. "I respect that Nick says, 'I don't color, I see Rachel,'" Constance says during the episode. "But at the same time, as nice as that sounds, right now with this climate that we're in, I feel like we've seen more racism come out. So he does need to be aware. It's not something you can just hide and ignore and live in your own bubble."
And Constance is right. Last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported an increase in hate crimes in the days following the 2016 election, in which Donald Trump was elected president, but the center did not seem to keep track of hate crimes against interracial couples specifically. Several crimes against interracial couples have been reported by the media recently, including an Ohio couple who found their rental property vandalized with swastikas last December and a Washington man who stabbed a black man and a white woman last summer after seeing the couple kiss.
It has been refreshing to watch Nick and Rachel date and express affection for one another while acknowledging their differences — and similarities. While it's disappointing that Rachel and Nick do not end the season as engaged, I'm definitely looking forward to Rachel's Bachelorette season, because it sounds she will bring an open mind and heart to her brand new journey. “Physically, I really don’t have a type,” she told People. "It’s really about finding love and not what the person looks like on the outside.”
It sounds like Rachel is be willing to break all kinds of barriers when it comes to romance on The Bachelorette — and it'll be a truly great season to watch.