Marquel Martin – this was the guy who was supposed to make Bachelor history (in my mind anyway). I was a Marquel fan from the beginning and I know I wasn’t alone. Marquel won millions of fans by the by the way he handled himself throughout his time on The Bachelorette, even amidst allegations of another contestant using a racial slur directed towards Marquel. He demonstrated his faith as he gave the guy the benefit of the doubt, moved on, and spoke in measured, even terms.
How could you not like the guy? In fact, I thought the suits at the Bachelor should pay attention. In fact, I tweeted that I thought Marquel should be the next Bachelor. (Sorry, Arie. I didn’t know you were in the running!) Not because he was black. Because he’s awesome.
To my surprise, Marquel was holding out hope that he’d be selected notwithstanding his Paradise stint.
On his blog, he wrote:
Now, with this morning’s announcement of ABC’s next ‘Bachelor’, I felt it’s my responsibility to take this opportunity to speak up, rather than let things be swept under the rug. I feel I need to tell the world why I believe I was not chosen and possibly never considered at all. I understand that this letter may come as a shock, and depending on who you are and your personal views, these statements may elicit a range of reactions as well as feelings. It is my intention to offend no one.
So why wasn’t I chosen to be the next bachelor?
Many thoughts come to mind. The most important and obvious elephant in the room that remains to be an underlying concern for some, is the question of will there ever be a black ‘Bachelor’ or ‘Bachelorette’? Let me be clear, I not trying to be that guy. But I’d be lying to myself and the world if I didn’t say that I feel like race played a large factor in this decision.
What else could it have been?
He goes on to write:
Being the “first black ‘Bachelor’” was an intimidating thought in and of itself! How would the world respond to an African American ‘Bachelor’? How would the cast members feel? Would my faith continue to be challenged and scrutinized? How would the world respond to the prospect of an African-American couple or potentially an interracial couple?
Well, I know the shows have a much-discussed “race problem.” In 2012, two African Americans filed a lawsuit against the show for racial discrimination. Neither The Bachelorette nor The Bachelor has ever featured a person of color as the lead. Also, the contestants have also been predominantly white.
Even though the case was dismissed and found without merit, the conversation continues. Marquel’s blog will no doubt resurrect it.
So is he right?
I don’t know, but there could’ve been other reasons. Here are my thoughts on the topic:
1. Normally, the show’s execs select a fan favorite from someone who finished in the top three. That guarantees that the shows’ dedicated fanbase had enough time to get to know them and will tune in. Marquel was sent home much earlier, had limited screen time, and was more of a gamble. They rolled the dice on the same type of gamble last year and everyone knows how the whole Juan Pablo experiment turned out. The fact is, the longer you last on the show, the more comfortable the producers and network will become with the idea of allowing you to be the show’s lead.
2. Accepting the Paradise gig made it really easy for the network to pass on him as the Bachelor. Marquel says that he doesn’t think that played a big part in the decision… he’s wrong. That decision was the nail in his coffin. I knew the moment I saw the commercials for Paradise promoting Marquel that he wasn’t going to be the bachelor. In my mind those commercials were made for one reason – to appease the Marquel fans and to deflect the racial questions. I’m sure he handled himself well, but people don’t want the bachelor to be apart of that train-wreck.
3. The Bachelor franchise already has had an interracial couple. In Marquel’s blog post he writes “How would the world respond to the prospect of an African-American couple or potentially an interracial couple?” So maybe I can’t speak on the African-American couple part but I can certainly speak to the interracial question. As many of you know, I’m white. In fact, I’m very white and Catherine is Filipino. I can say from firsthand experience that bachelor nation and people everywhere have been extremely supportive of our relationship. Outside of a few racist jackasses, we have been met with nothing but love.
Having said all that, however, I think the show missed out on a great opportunity with Marquel. I wanted to see a black bachelor and I believe he would have made a great one. Give me your thoughts below.