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Chris Harrison on Matt James Bachelor Casting and Diversity

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Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC

In the aftermath of Matt James being named as the first black Bachelor lead in the franchise’s history, the executive producers are vowing to make up for their diversity errors and missteps over the past two decades. Two decades! In a statement posted from Chris Harrison’s social media accounts, the producers admitted that the franchise has been too white for too long, and outlined steps being taken to ensure more people of color get the opportunity to get drunk in a palapa. Or, better yet, enlist their moms to help choose between a trio of wannabe influencers. “We acknowledge our responsibility for the lack of representation of people of color on our franchise and pledge to make significant changes to address this issue moving forward,” the statement read. “We are taking positive steps to expand diversity in our cast, in our staff, and most importantly, in the relationships that we show on television. We can and will do better to reflect the world around us and show all of its beautiful love stories.”

The statement is a culmination of 18 years of Bachelor and Bachelorette seasons only having one black lead. Last week, numerous stars within the franchise signed and publicized a petition that demanded a bigger push for diversity — demands that included a black Bachelor for the upcoming 25th season, ensuring every future contestant pool is 35 percent nonwhite, and giving equitable screen time to contestants of color. The petition came a few days after the franchise’s only black lead, Rachel Lindsay, said in an interview that she would sever her ties with the show if these diversity issues weren’t addressed. “It’s ridiculous. It’s embarrassing. At this point it’s embarrassing to be affiliated with it,” Lindsay explained. “It bothers me that certain things have happened that we just say, ‘Oh, hush hush,’ and ‘Let’s just move on past it.’ We need to acknowledge it, because what you’re doing is perpetuating this type of behavior, you’re continuing to.”

Lindsay also expressed skepticism that the franchise is being sincere with casting James and fixing diversity issues, equating the decision to “the trend of posting a black box on your social media account without other steps taken to dismantle the systems of injustice.” ABC, on the contrary, said they will “continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise.”

This content was originally published here.

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