'The Bachelorette': Kaitlyn Bristowe Says It's 'Not OK' Finale Didn't Address Blackface Controversy

The Bachelor franchise has been under major scrutiny recently for lack of diversity in casting. Additionally, there's been some backlash over contestants' and cast members' racially insensitive behavior exposed via social media during their respective seasons. Kaitlyn Bristowe is chiming in on The Bachelorette's season finale. The former franchise lead shared via Instagram that she feels something was missing from the recent finale. "The show, Erich, and Gabby, had a real opportunity to use their voice and acknowledge Blackface," she said, in part, referencing the resurfaced photo of Erich [Schwer] in Blackface. Erich previously apologized for the photo on Instagram amid it being brought to light. At the time, he wrote:  "I was naïve to the hurtful implications of my actions to the Black community and those closest to me, and will forever regret my offensive and damaging behavior."

Bristowe says there are several ways within the finale the controversy could have been discussed and believes other things included in the episode were for filer purposes. "I don't think we needed to read texts from his ex, or set up a fake mansion for Zach," she wrote, noting the lengthy discussion of Erich's controversial text messages. There was also Zach Shallcross, meeting multiple women from his season during the live finale. Bristowe says those scenes were unnecessary. "I think we needed to continue to evolve and show up with that many people watching. Michelle, myself, and Becca were all under the impression this would be addressed," she added, referencing her fellow Bachelorette leads Michelle Young and Becca Kufrin. All three of the ladies attended the finale. "It wasn't, and that's not OK," she said. 

Bristowe's statement comes amid her close friendship with Young, who made history as only the third Black Bachelorette in the franchise after Rachel Lindsay and Tayshia Adams. "I don't want to speak for Michelle, but I know she committed to being the lead with a promise of change. To brush over Blackface, and act as if we didn't have time? What message does that send?" she asked. "Didn't Rachel Lindsay already show us how important this is?"

There have been several scandals regarding race within the franchise. When Matt James made history as the first Black lead in The Bachelor's 25-year history, he chose a suitor who was not Black and who'd attended an antebellum-themed party just a few years prior. They split amid the controversy, only to reconcile. There are now rumors that they never actually broke up. As for Young, her season was history-making, with four Black contestants in the final four. She chose her suitor, but they have since split. 

Lindsay has come forward to allege that her season was filled with uncomfortable and stereotypical depictions and experiences trying to paint her as an angry Black woman. She also notes that there was pressure on her to potentially choose a Black suitor, as James also alleges for his experience.