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'The Bachelorette' Contestants Talk Historic All-Black Final 4

"We're just grateful for that moment."

Culture & Entertainment

The Bachelorette has made history this year. After 18 seasons of the beloved ABC reality competition show, The Bachelorette has had its first-ever all-Black final four contestants. Michelle Young, who is the current Bachelorette and also Black was first introduced to Bachelor nation when she was in the final two of the first Black Bachelor, Matt James’, season and so it’s exciting to see her push history forward on the long-running series.


The final four contestants included Nayte Olukoya, Joe Coleman, Brandon Jones, and Rodney Mathews who (spoiler alert) was sadly sent home last Tuesday. After the episode aired, Rodney appeared on the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast and spoke about being a part of the historic moment.

ABC/Craig Sjodin

"Once I kind of understood the gravity of that situation, it was really something that meant a lot to me,” Rodney said. “For us, and Michelle as well, to kind of talk about that and just us being a part of history with the Bachelor Nation franchise is really something that is so special to me and something I hold near and dear to my heart."

It seemed that the guys while making history also seemed to have a great deal of respect for one another. "Each and every one of them, I'm so blessed to know them and even be in the same category with guys like that," the 29-year-old said. "We were just so honored and happy to be there together."

"We were just all so close and connected but we understood each other's connections with Michelle," he continued. "We're just grateful for that moment. And I can't tell you how proud and happy I was to be a part of that."

Nayte, Joe, and Brandon all also touched on the remarkable occasion via their personal Instagram pages. In an extensive caption, Nayte wrote about how much it meant to him growing up in a predominately white neighborhood and being raised by his mom’s side of the family who is white.

“I know this isn’t some earth-shattering historic event. But I can’t help but think about my experience of growing up in Canada. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, went to predominately white schools, and was raised by my Mom and her side of the family. I didn’t see many people who looked like me. And when I did, it was mainly on TV. And many of us know how people who look like me tend to be portrayed on TV…”

All three of the final contestants also gushed over their “Black queen” Michelle only leaving fans to wonder which one ends up with the Minnesota beauty.

Featured image by Amy Sussman/Getty Images

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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