Former 'Bachelor' contestant Greer Blitzer apologizes for defending racist blackface
Greer Blitzer, a contestant on the latest season of "The Bachelor," gave a second apology for defending a former classmate who dressed in a racist blackface costume at a Halloween party. This time, the apology was in front of a live studio audience.
In October during the filming of the 27th season of the ABC reality dating show, which already had a troubled history of racism, screenshots of deleted tweets had surfaced on Reddit that showed Blitzer coming to her friend's defense. At the time, her friend was a sophomore at Lamar High School in Houston where Blitzer, who was 18, had attended. In the tweets, she dismissed the blackface costume as "dumb but not racist" and that "it wasn't an intentional racist act."
Shortly after the season's first episode aired in January, Greer issued her first apology in her Instagram story and wrote, "In my past, I have made some uneducated, ignorant and frankly, wrong, comments on my social media accounts. In particular, in 2016, I used misguided arguments on Twitter to defend a student who dressed in Blackface as Tupac for Halloween."
"I am deeply sorry to those I have hurt, especially those within the Black community, not because these screenshots have resurfaced, but because I ever shared those harmful opinions at all," the 24-year-old continued, adding that her young age was no excuse for her actions.
Greer, originally from the Houston area, gave a strong first impression to "The Bachelor" star Zach Shallcross. However, Shallcross ultimately decided not to grant Greer a rose for a hometown date, which sent Greer home.
She was once again confronted about the issue during Tuesday's episode, in which the eliminated contestants sat with the show's host, Jesse Palmer, for brief interviews in front of a live audience.
Palmer acknowledged the show's history of racist incidents, admitting that "as a franchise, we've done a very poor job in the past of addressing serious topics head on."
“I’ve been wanting to address this. I don’t want to sweep it under the rug,” Blitzer began. "What I failed to mention in my apology was that what happened was racist. It's not about the intent, it's about the impact. And this acquaintance of mine that I knew performing blackface was racist, me defending it was racist, my ignorance was racist, and I'm just so ashamed. I'm just deeply sorry that I hurt the Black community."
She said she was educating herself on the history of blackface. Beforehand, Blitzer had met with Kira Banks, a psychology professor at St. Louis University and an expert in diversity, equity and inclusion who was in the audience for the episode.
"I think it's important to name and give voice when racism comes up," Banks said. "The reality is we can't nice our way out of racism. We can say the right thing, but what are we gonna do, what actions are we going to take? So that's why it's really important not to just be performative but to educate ourselves to be willing to understand the history behind actions and be willing to do something different."
Fellow Season 27 contestant Alyssa Jacobs, who is Black, said it "was hurtful to hear and see the things" Greer had said on Twitter, according to People. But she said she "respected" that Greer "always faced it head-on."
For years, Black fans of the show have called it out for its lack of diversity among contestants and leads. It wasn't until after the murder of George Floyd in 2020 and an online campaign that ABC producers cast Matt James as the first Black lead on "The Bachelor."
That season had also been overshadowed by racism when then-host Chris Harrison gave a controversial “Extra” interview with the first Black Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, in which he defended Season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell for attending a fraternity party in 2018 with an antebellum South theme, the period when slavery was legal in Southern states.
After the interview, Harrison quickly apologized but ultimately left the series after 19 years of hosting the franchise that includes "The Bachelorette."
Lindsey in 2020 had threatened to cut ties with the franchise if it did not commit to more diversity. She called for the hiring of more diverse producers, refraining from “creating problematic storylines” for people of color and finding leads that had experience with interracial dating.
During Lindsey's "Bachelorette" season, fans attacked her online with racial slurs.
Then, racist tweets from of one of that season's contestants, Lee Garrett, had surfaced online. Garrett referred to the Black Lives Matter movement as a "terrorist group" and in another tweet, asked, "What’s the difference between the NAACP and the KKK? Wait for it…One has the sense of shame to cover their racist a– faces.”
And last fall, "Bachelorette" Season 19 contestant Erich Schwer was outed for another blackface incident. A Reddit user had posted a high school yearbook photo of Schwer dressed as Jimi Hendrix with his face painted black. Schwer went on to win the season and became engaged to Gabby Windey.
Both men have since apologized.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.