When Bryan Abasolo pulled Rachel Lindsay in his arms and passionately kissed her during Monday night’s premiere episode of The Bachelorette, it marked two firsts for the long-running ABC series: Lindsay’s first kiss of the season, obviously, and more importantly, the first time a black bachelorette has made out with a man of Colombian descent on the show.
If The Bachelorette’s history is any indication, there will be more spur-of-the-moment kisses to leave Lindsay weak-in-the-knees. But unlike past seasons, Lindsay is the first ever black bachelorette, opening the door for the show’s latest lead to lock lips with an abundance of men from a variety of backgrounds and cultures as millions of Americans watch from home.
Lindsay’s biracial flirations come as Americans are increasingly embracing interracial relationships. In 2015, some 17 percent of American newlyweds married someone outside their race, compared to just 12 percent in 2013, according to the Pew Research Center. Lindsay stands out, however, not only because she is the first non-white woman to helm a Bachelorette season, but because black women so rarely date beyond their own cultures.
While 25 percent of black men married someone of a different race in 2015, only 12 percent of women did. When it came to marrying white men, only three percent of black women said “I Do” in 2015. To further complicate matters, marriage isn’t always an option for black women looking for a black partner. While roughly 90 percent of all white people were married by the age of 46, only 68 percent of black people had jumped the broom, according to a 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics report.
Education can make a difference. Among black women with a college degree or higher, such as Lindsay, who received a law degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, 13 percent intermarried someone with a bachelor’s degree in 2015 compared to just 10 percent of those who intermarried someone with only “some college” experience, according to the Pew report.
From what viewers already know about Lindsay, the 31-year-old civil defense attorney is clearly very open to dating and marrying outside of her race. She was the first black woman to make it to the top three of The Bachelor, when Nick Viall’s heart was up for grabs on the 21st season of the show earlier in the year, and now she’s on her own journey to find love with a choice of 31 men from various racial backgrounds.
Her romantic journey could even see the ABC show mark another first—an interracial marriage. Upon announcing her engagement to one of the contestants, Lindsay told The Hollywood Reporter that “race didn’t play a factor” in her choice to fall in love.
“I remember having that conversation and talking about the pressures that I feel from America, or black America. It was something I wanted to get over before I entered my own season. I was just like, ‘You know what? This is for me.’ I’m not choosing a man for anyone else. I have to be selfish. I have to do what’s best for me,” she said. “I’m the one who has to love and spend the rest of my life with this person if I’m lucky to find that one. I couldn’t get caught up in picking a certain man to please a certain community. Race didn’t play in as a factor when it came to choosing men along the way. In my final decision, I just went with my heart and the person I found my forever with.”
Viewers, of course, won’t find out who Lindsay plans to marry until the end of the season. She displayed an interest in several of the men during the premiere episode, especially 37-year-old Abasolo, who received her first impression rose of the season. And when it came time to send eight potential suitors home, Lindsay opted to say goodbye to four white men—and four men of color.