After 18 years on the air, the "Bachelor" franchise has had only one black bachelorette — and no black bachelor. But fans of the reality dating series — collectively known as "Bachelor Nation" — are now calling on the ABC Television Network and its parent company Disney to feature more people of color on the show.
The Bachelor Diversity Campaign was launched June 8, the same day the new series in the franchise, "The Bachelor: Greatest Seasons — Ever!" premiered. A change.org petition started by campaign organizers has obtained nearly 60,000 signatures.
Campaigners for anti-racism in the Bachelor franchise have also tweeted at ABC and the show's executive producer, Mike Fleiss.
"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 ("BIPOC") relationships, families, and storylines," the petition said. "The franchise, and all those who represent it, should reflect and honor the racial diversity of our country – both in front of and behind the camera."
The petition is asking producers to cast a black bachelor as the season 25 lead and cast BIPOC for at least 35% of contestants in all future seasons, among many other requests.
Rachel Lindsay, the show's first and only black bachelorette, has also been vocal about the show's lack of diversity. On Monday, Lindsay wrote a blog post about her continued involvement with the franchise.
"Recently, I have received many questions regarding the headlines stating that I will leave the Bachelor franchise if changes to address the lack of diversity in lead roles are not established," she wrote. Lindsay said she wanted to provide "context and fully explain why I've come to this decision."
Lindsay said she never watched the franchise before appearing on it, "because black people know historically and presently that the show is not formatted for their success."
When asked to be the bachelorette, she said, she knew she had a chance to be a "trailblazer." "I knew that I wanted to present myself to an audience that had not seen a lead of color in this role," she wrote. "I knew that I wanted to be a trailblazer in this franchise to diversify the lead role, to diversify the contestants trying out and casted for the show, and to diversify the audience watching this show."
But four years after her season, she said, there's still not enough diversity on the show.
She said if changes are not made "on the inside and outside of the franchise," she will disassociate from it. She listed several suggested changes, including casting leads "that are truly interested in dating outside of their race," diversifying producers, and not "creating problematic story lines for people of color."
In an interview with CBS News about white silence on social media during widespread protests over racial injustice, Lindsay said she has seen other people in "Bachelor Nation" speaking out about the lack of diversity on the franchise. "It has been very nice to see people step up in a way that I never seen have before," she said.
The former bachelorette is not the only star to speak about this issue. Tyler Cameron, Kaitlyn Bristowe, Nick Viall, Ben Higgins, Arie Luyendyk and many others have supported the efforts of the Bachelor Diversity Campaign, a spokesperson said in an email to CBS News.
"We will use our power as viewers and fans to hold ABC and Warner Bros. accountable and demand they use their platform in a more thoughtful, race-conscious, and socially responsible way. It's time that ABC, Mike Fleiss, and Warner Bros. take demonstrable action to address the inequalities in casting, screen time, and employment of minority groups," the campaign said in a press release.
"Support for BIPOC lives must extend beyond the events of a week or a social media post," the statement said. "Demonstrations are important, but our commitment to anti-racism must also manifest in our everyday pursuits and familiar spaces. This moment is an opportunity for ABC and Warner Bros. to mold the franchise we love into one of which we can all be proud and unequivocally support."