On Monday's fifth episode of The Bachelorette's 12th season, JoJo Fletcher eliminated Grant Kemp, the last remaining black contestant. The firefighter from San Francisco was also the last remaining nonwhite contestant. The season's other four nonwhite or biracial contestants had been eliminated previously. The eight remaining contestants are all white men.
Kemp's dismissal kept a notorious Bachelor and Bachelorette streak alive: no black person has ever advanced past Week 5. As Fusion reported, 59 percent of black contestants are eliminated by Week 2. JoJo's season started slightly more diverse than previous seasons, with five men of color in the cast out of 26 (there have been seasons of The Bachelorette with none). JoJo herself is half-Persian. But, unfortunately, the show reverted to form. The Bachelor is usually picked from the final four contestants, so if that tradition continues, the next Bachelor will again be white.
The franchise has had Latin stars and winners, and has had at least made cursory attempts to improve diversity. Creator Mike Fleiss has said that black people just don't audition for the franchise as often as white people. And since the week-by-week selection is based on the Bachelor's or Bachelorette's personal preference, the show's producers can't force him or her to choose in a way that fulfills a quota. The stars aren't even necessarily being racist. This season, for example, the black and biracial contestants — Jake, Christian and Grant — didn't appear to be proactive in their attempts to woo JoJo and didn't have strong enough personalities to earn a lot of screen time. The show can try to set up black contestants to succeed, but ultimately it comes down to the contestants and the star whether or not they advance.
That is, unless the show breaks tradition and casts a black Bachelor. That seems to be the only way the show can override its programming. UnREAL, the thorn in The Bachelor's side, already did it. Perhaps ABC and Warner Bros., the studio that produces the franchise, are hesitant to let a black man star for fear of alienating the show's predominately white audience that they worry may not relate to a black Bachelor.
But the producers need to give the audience a chance. They may be pleasantly surprised with how people react. And if ratings go down a little bit, A) the show will survive one down season and B) it will compensate with positive press. It's time for the franchise to step up. As The Wrap's Beatrice Verhoven and Rasha Ali deftly put it, "The Bachelor and Bachelorette are all about the fantasy of finding a perfect soul mate. When only white people are represented, the show sends a signal, intentionally or not, about who in our society is attractive and lovable."
Grant Kemp would be a good Bachelor. He's handsome and funny and charming. He may not be the best Bachelor ever, but let's face it, the best Bachelor ever isn't coming from JoJo Fletcher's season. He may as well make history another way. It was just announced that Grant will join Bachelor in Paradise this summer, so maybe that can be his chance to make a case for himself as the Bachelor. It probably won't matter, though, and the next Bachelor will be another bland white guy.