Bachelor Nation is demanding accountability from ABC amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, calling out the franchise for only casting one black lead in its 18-year history. Past contestants on The Bachelor and Bachelorette such as Rachel Lindsay, Tyler Cameron, Lauren Burnham, Seinne Fleming, Nicole Lopez-Alvar, Nick Viall, Diggy Moreland are among the 52,000-plus people who have signed a Change.org petition titled "A Campaign For Anti-Racism in the Bachelor Franchise."
The petition criticizes ABC and Warner Bros. for casting only one black lead, Lindsay, in 40 combined seasons, calling it "unacceptable." The petition continues, "As creators of one of the most popular and influential franchises on television, ABC and Warner Bros. have an opportunity and responsibility to feature Black, Indigenous, People of Color ... relationships, families, and storylines."
Calling for the franchise and those who represent it to "reflect and honor the racial diversity of our country" both on and off the camera, the petition notes, "Representation matters, and it is one of the most important ways our country can embrace its diversity and evolve."
If the ABC franchise were to comply with the demands of the petition, it would cast the first black Bachelor for Season 25 and dedicate itself to casting BIPOC for at least 35 percent of every season moving forward, all of whom would get equitable screen time. ABC is asked to provide mental health resources specifically geared to helping BIPOC contestants navigate their time on the franchise and vet contestants more thoroughly to prevent further people with prejudiced and offensive pasts to make it on the show.
The petition also asks that the franchise equitably compensate and hire more BIPOC employees, as well as a BIPOC diversity consultant. For contestants who behave in a racist way on air, the network is asked to provide a "zero tolerance policy," as well as publicly denounce and apologize for enabling systemic racism in the franchise. Finally, the franchise is asked to commit to providing resources to help viewers learn more about BIPOC stories and causes while contributing monetarily to combating racism.
The petition comes as Lindsay spoke out about the lack of diversity in Bachelor Nation, saying she would not hesitate to cut ties altogether with the franchise if nothing changes. "You never want to bite the hand that feeds you, but you also do not want to be aiding and abetting problematic behavior," she wrote on her blog Monday. "I am affiliated with this franchise, and to be silent on some matters is to still be complicit with these cycles of detrimental conduct. If you saw your brother or sister continually doing something wrong, would you not hold them accountable? This is the reason that I have come to the conclusion that if changes are not made on the inside and outside of the franchise, I will dissociate myself from it."