Dear Rachel Lindsay: “Black” Isn’t a Dirty Word
After 15 years, Rachel Lindsay is the first black lead on The Bachelorette. The move toward inclusion has been treated like a huge deal since the moment Rachel’s season was announced but, in 2017, the bigger deal is that it took ABC so long to do in the first place.
No season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette has escaped criticism, but this one is riddled with so many cringe-inducing possibilities I had a hard time deciding — as a black woman — whether I could watch. With a cocktail in hand, I settled in for the two-hour rollercoaster premiere of potential secondhand embarrassments. The show began by recapping last season’s finale when our new bachelorette is revealed and she meets the first four men participating in her historical season. This is when Rachel, and the world, met Dean. His opening line, you ask?
“I just want you to know, I’m ready to go black and I’m never going back.”
I knew there would be some bullsh-t but I was surprised it began before the first show went to air. Was his first impression intended to be humorous? If so, who were the laughs for? What made him think, “Ah yes, that’s the ticket. This Dean-original will make her mine!” I wanted her to address this specific microaggression, but how do you address something you don’t acknowledge in the first place? Dean reiterates his comment when he meets Rachel again during the show’s premiere. While she was busy boosting his ego telling him she loved it and thought it showed confidence, I was sighing loud and often from my couch. I hoped a learning experience would emerge – tell him she’s flattered and how there’s so much more than meets the eye. Anyone watching who didn’t realize boiling everything we are – our personalities, our interests, our attractiveness – down to a corny line about our skin color would’ve received this subtle yet teachable moment to think before they speak.
The way Rachel reacts to every situation on-camera will be put under a microscope; incidents that may have gotten her back up in the real world may be battles she chooses to ignore on the show. The ‘angry black woman’ stereotype still runs rampant, and it’s one I can personally vouch for. Everyday examples I’ve encountered include being told to calm down when I’ve disagreed with someone, or being immediately labeled as having a bad attitude or a temper regardless of my demeanor. I can’t help but think it’s something Rachel is actively trying to avoid.
I can relate to Rachel’s quest to find love on a personal level, too. Once upon a time, I landed myself on two separate television shows looking for the same (spoiler alert: no love found). Neither of the shows I was on had the reach or magnitude of The Bachelorette, but I understand why she would do whatever it takes to potentially find “the one.” I’m an independent, intelligent, and successful woman who feels like I work twice as hard to get half as far in career, in love, in life. The many beautiful and unique facets of black women continue to be underrepresented and the stereotypes still being served up for mass consumption mean our work never ends.
There’s a lot of importance based on our – black women’s – visibility. Not only for us, but for young people who deserve to see people who look like them thriving. Diversity should be embraced, not feared. Educating the masses is not this show’s responsibility, but this has opened an incredible opportunity to have real conversations and it would be so beneficial to nurture rather than negate them.
So far, the wrong conversations are dominating since the show premiered. Last week, Newsweek published a now-pulled article with this phrase in the headline: “…Rachel Lindsay is proving black women actually do like men outside their race.” It felt like reading: “…Woody Harrelson is proving white men actually can jump when playing basketball.” Being black doesn’t affect who we’re attracted to any more than being white changes the earth’s gravitational pull. But it certainly plays a role in the reciprocation of that attraction. Black women aren’t afforded the same opportunities as white women to be individuals when it comes to dating. This is the most diverse cast in the franchise’s history and yet people seem surprised she would have non-black men as potential matches. Why is this? I’m not going to limit my love, lust, or loins to a select group, and there are many black women – Rachel included – who feel the same.
In our society, black women are often told we are not desirable. Making a romantic connection with someone is hard enough without lacing those odds with being a black woman in this swipe culture that has become the norm. And yet, Rachel refuses to comment on that reality. “Race wasn’t really — no one made me very aware that I was black . . . It really wasn’t a theme or an issue during the season,” she told the Hollywood Reporter. We are black, Rachel. No one needs to make you aware of that for this fact to remain. “Black” isn’t a dirty word and doesn’t have to be an “issue” for it to be part of the show’s narrative. We’re so happy to see someone who looks like us on this huge platform, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong in wanting to celebrate that.
Arianne Young has a Masters in Non-Traditional Dating Practices with a Doctorate in writing about them. Find her on Twitter @ariannelyoung
(Photos via David Becker/Getty + ABC. Header design by Rebecca Fong.)
Pocket doors are so delightful in and of themselves. They appear when you need them, get tucked away when you don't, and make it easy to define rooms while keeping an open floor plan. Add to the pocket door a joyful patterned wallpaper surprise, and you will be sent right into fits of visual jubilation! Or something ;) Today we're sharing two simple and impactful pocket door makeovers that zhuzh up your space in a jiffy.
Anjelika Temple here, co-founder of Brit + Co and proud owner of several pocket doors! When I moved into my first real grown-up house a couple years ago, I knew I wanted to incorporate wallpaper so reached out to our friends at Chasing Paper to see how we might collaborate. It felt like a total lightbulb moment when I realized I could create a surprise pop of pattern on a couple sets of pocket doors.
Not only is it a whimsical way to bring color into a space, but the doors double as picture-perfect backdrops for all your SFH (selfies from home, obvs).
A few pro tips about install:
- Removable wallpaper is miraculously forgiving! You can take it on and off multiple times without it losing integrity (or mucking up your surface).
- I ordered this adhesive wallpaper installation kit with a squeegee and xacto knife and it worked super well. I also recommend a sharp pair of scissors for cutting longer lines.
- This is a two-person job! Get a friend, put on a playlist, and get ready to bond.
- Wild, organic patterns like Tally are great because it's challenging to spot any imperfections in pattern alignment; keep pattern choice in mind if you've got a lot of corners to match up. More geometric patterns and larger shapes leave less room for error (but are awesome in their own right!).
BATHROOM POCKET DOORS
In our primary bathroom, we chose the wallpaper pattern Tally, designed by Kelly Ventura, in White and Navy. In our space, the navy reads as a soft black, which is perfect for the space. It's easy to combine an ever-rotating collection of linens with the Tally pattern.
I love how the white trim becomes the perfect frame around this pocket door piece of art.
My favorite moment in this space is the fact that you actually get a third pop of pattern thanks to our serendipitously placed mirror!
And yes, this one works pretty darn well as a backdrop too ;)
LIVING ROOM DOUBLE DOORS
This set of doors is definitely a focal point of our home. It separates our living room from our primary bedroom which opens onto our backyard. The doors are pretty much always open, but when they're closed we wanted to evoke a fun, nature-inspired vibe. With that in mind, we selected the Lines and Moons pattern by Thimblepress in Green and Brown.
Earth mama vibes up in here! I love how the shapes and colors echo the ferns you see through the windows and the acorn wood details throughout the house.
Love this pattern moment, and xacto-ing out the door handle is def on the oddly satisfying DIY list.
For a pattern lover like me, I love that now I have this instant photo backdrop!
Thanks to Chasing Paper for providing these rolls of pure pattern amazingness. Head to chasingpaper.com to find our own favorites and start adding patterns to your home!
(Wallpaper wingwoman: Kayla Haykin; Photography: Kurt Andre)