Race and the Bachelorette?

The Bachelorette is a show about dating, but it has focused only on white people, as if the United States was an all white society.  Recently some controversy has developed about who gets chosen to be the Bachelorette. Some people have been criticising the show for not including diversity among the contestants and the stars.

The Bachelorette is a spin off of the show the Bachelor.   These shows are about a men/women  finding their true love. They each get 25 men/women they can choose from and each week people are voted off the show and at the end one person is left who is supposed to date and maybe even marry the man who chose her.  The network has also been choosing the women to star in the Bachelorette from among the women who were on the Bachelor but were not chosen by the Bachelor. T here has only been one non white person on the bachelor and he was the most hated bachelor of them all. The non white people have been usually voted off in the early episodes rather than being a finalist.  There have been lawsuits filed against them for not including blacks as contestants.

It seemed like ABC was going to take a small step towards diversity this season.  Caila Quinn is a woman who had been on the show the Bachelor.  She came in third but was ultimately not chosen by the Bachelor.  The ABC network was going to choose her to be the next bachelorette (the person who chooses among the 25 people who want to date her).  This was because she is half Filipino. In the end, they did not choose Caila.  They chose a woman named  Jojo fletcher to be the next bachelorette. Although she identifies as  white it was stated that her mother was Persian. This probably make her seem more diverse than any other bachelorette that was on the show.

Currently the United States is 62% white, 12% black, 18% Hispanic, 6% Asian, 1% American Indian, and 2% two or more races.  Intermarriage has been rising in the Unites States.  7% of whites are married to a person of another race, 19% of blacks are out married, 28% of Asians and 58% of American Indians.  One interesting fact about intermarriage is that among blacks men are more likely to outmarry and among Asians, women are more likely to outmarry.  25% of black men are outmarried but only 12% of women, and 16% of Asian men are outmarried but 37% of Asian women are.  The Pew Center reported that “In 2014, 37% of Americans said having more people of different races marrying each other was a good thing for society, up from 24% four years earlier”(Wang).

Based on these statistics, the Bachelor could have a black man choosing among white women, or the Bachelorette could have an Asian woman choosing among white men and this would be more like real life than if they chose a black woman as the Bachelorette or an Asian man as the bachelor. Or would designing the show based on these statistics also be racist?  Should we even pay attention to race when thinking about dating and marriage?
But where do these preferences for partners come from?  Why do people choose their dates based on race?  We know from anthropology that race is meaningless in biological terms.  Genetic variation is greater within races than between them (Class slides). We can have racism without individual racists.  But how should we interpret the people on the Bachelor and the Bachelorette?  Are they voting people off because they are not white?  Are the people at the network choosing people to be on the show based on race?  Is the controversy over the Bachelorette evidence of racism?  How would you decide if you were on a jury deciding on the lawsuits that have been filed?

By the way look at the picture above. Jojo is on the left and Caila is on the right. Do these women look like non whites to you?

Sources:

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/la-et-st-unreal-bachelor-20160326-story.html

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/06/12/interracial-marriage-who-is-marrying-out/

http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/distribution-by-raceethnicity/

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