'Black Bachelorette' still struggles with race in search for love
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By Andrea Peyser
June 20, 2016

'Black Bachelorette' still struggles with race in search for love

Dr. Misee Harris is smoking hot, physically fit, successful and on a mission. The 31-year-old babe is looking for a good man — while trying to keep her clothes on.

“It’s definitely hard,’’ Misee tells me with a laugh.

Despite her awesome looks, Misee (pronounced MEE-see) isn’t a model or actress, but a Los Angeles pediatric dentist who lives with her dog, Grace. She also is African-American, which shouldn’t matter a whit.

But on Planet TV, the color of her skin means everything. Three years ago, Misee was asked to be a contestant on her then-favorite reality TV show, “The Bachelor,” in which she would have schemed against two dozen or so cuties for the hand in marriage and other body parts of a strange dude.

She was game.

And then she wasn’t.

Misee, who at the time lived in Nashville, Tenn., went through the show’s cast-selection process while isolated from other would-be contestants in an LA hotel room, having her blood drawn for medical tests and her personality dissected by a psychiatrist, among other indignities. But no one connected with the show asked her, “Would you be willing to get involved romantically with a man of a race other than your own?” (She would.)

Misee came to believe she was to be cast as “the token — the minority girl who gets kicked off the show by the second or third episode.” She didn’t think producers were planning to change the show’s formula, which involves hooking up white people. (There has been one Latino leading man in 20 seasons of “The Bachelor.”) She rejected the offer to appear on the show.

Misee earned the moniker “The Black Bachelorette” for her campaign, waged in media interviews and on her “women’s empowerment” site, MiseeHarris.com, to shame ABC suits into bringing racial diversity to the cast of “The Bachelor” and its sister show, “The Bachelorette,” on which guys plot to win ladies’ promises of marriage.

Expressing a strong opinion has cost her. Misee was forced to resign from a dental practice in 2014 after colleagues found angry posts about race relations on her personal Facebook page, particularly a cartoon critical of the deaths of black men in police custody. She says she has since been offered another job.

Then last month, something crazy happened.

Folks running the porn company Digital Playground made an offer Misee says is worth a cool million dollars to star in a XXX online video parody of “The Bachelorette.” Her friends expected her to be angry.

She was flattered. Digital Playground’s producers “thought I was beautiful enough,” Misee says. “At least they did not marginalize people of color. Hey — Kim Kardashian did a sex tape and that worked out OK for her!”

Misee’s experience rips the veil off a dirty little secret plaguing educated, professional, straight black women: There exists a dearth of deserving and available men of color. Some estimates peg American black females as being up to 50 percent more likely than their male counterparts to graduate from high school and twice as likely to attend institutions of higher education. Black men are more than six times as likely as white men to be locked up in prisons and jails, a Pew Research Center survey found in 2010.

Meanwhile, black men may be in relationships — even with women outside their race. “Black men have been doing it forever,” Misee says. But black women who date or marry “out” face fierce backlash, with much of the displeasure expressed by African-American men, author and blogger Christelyn Karazin, a black woman married to a white man, has told me.

“So many of my friends” — mostly black women — “are doctors, attorneys, accountants, a principal, a professor, Ph.D.s, you name it, all in their 30s. They’re single,” Misee grouses. “They tell me there’s one black man for every 20 black women. I hate to say it, but black women want black men. It’s how we were raised, what we’re attracted to.”

She hasn’t as yet accepted or rejected the offer from Digital Playground.

“Nudity’s OK” on camera, she says, “but no sexual intercourse!”

In January, ABC Entertainment Group’s then-president, Paul Lee, hinted that the lead character in this summer’s installment of “The Bachelorette” will be “diverse” after 11 seasons not, and that “The Bachelor” could follow suit. Perhaps coincidentally, Lee, a white man, was fired the next month and replaced by Channing Dungey, a black woman.

Misee Harris says she’s over “The Bachelor” but hasn’t given up on finding love, which could appear at her door in the form of “the FedEx man delivering a package. I hope he’s awesome.”

I hope so, too, no matter his race.

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