Bachelorette contestant Erich Schwer is apologizing after an old yearbook photo showing him wearing blackface surfaced on the internet. Oh, Erich. Why? I liked you so much after your hometown date. Now I’m just sad.
Erich is currently competing for the affections, as well as the Final Rose, of co-Bachelorette Gabby Windey in Season 19 of the long-running show. On Monday, fans saw Gabby and Erich go on a Fantasy Suite date before he became the final man standing in the competition for her heart.
But just a couple of days later, high school photos of Erich began circulating on the Internet. In addition to a traditional yearbook photo, the viral Reddit post also showed an image of Erich wearing blackface and an afro wig, which quickly attracted criticism, as reported in People.
On Thursday afternoon, Erich issued a statement on Instagram, apologizing for his actions. Maybe the school that published that yearbook should also issue an apology. Didn’t anybody realize publishing that photo was not a good idea? Didn’t they have a supervising adult/teacher advisor who could have explained why that was a bad idea? Apparently not.
“I wholeheartedly apologize for the insensitive photo of me in Blackface from my high school yearbook that has been circulating,” Erich captioned a photo of a blank black square, adding, “What I thought at the time was a representation of my love for Jimi Hendrix, was nothing but ignorance.”
“I was naïve to the hurtful implications of my actions to the Black community and those closest to me, and will forever regret my offensive and damaging behavior,” he continued. “I am deeply ashamed by my actions and understand that my apology is only the first step in taking accountability.”
Well, let’s call it a learning opportunity. But it would have been nice if someone had stepped in at the time and told Erich how utterly embarrassing and hurtful that photo would be 11 or so years in the future. Sadly no one did so.
Following his Instagram post, many fans commented on Erich‘s mea culpa.
“All it takes is admittance and repentance. Keep at it, continue to be better!” wrote one follower, while another added, “The best thing you can do now is just prove you mean what you say about taking accountability. That’s the correct way to apologize. I wish you luck.”
Still, on Twitter, Erich faced lots of criticism as fans weighed in on the controversial image.
“I get Erich apologized for his blackface in high school but let’s be honest if that photo never resurfaced he would have never apologized #bachelorette,” one fan responded.
Another added, “bachelorette is gonna be a joke if they bring up Nate [Mitchell] and his two girlfriends and not Erich doing blackface on a YEARBOOK.” (The comment was in reference to another of Gabby‘s exes who faced his own criticism this season about whether he withheld the fact that he has a daughter with an ex-girlfriend, as well as speculation he previously dated two women at the same time.)
Other fans retracted their previous support of Erich, with one tweeting, “Upon recent news of Erich doing blackface, I take it back. I can’t support such nonsense.”
Another wrote, “i lied. not supporting gabby and erich. and if she stays with him what him being exposed for doing blackface. she’s in for a rude awakening”
I would rather hope that if former Bachelor Matt James (who is Black) can forgive his girlfriend Rachael Kirkconnell for photos that surfaced of her dressed for an antebellum plantation-themed party in college that celebrated the “old South,” then perhaps Bachelor Nation can find it in our hearts to forgive Erich, especially if his apology is actually sincere and no other evidence of racist behavior exists. I hate to use the excuse that he was “just a kid,” but really, someone should have educated him at the time that this was not a good idea.
Before the damaging photo ever came to light, Bachelor Nation fell in love with Erich during his hometown visit. That’s when fans first met Erich’s father Allan Schwer, who was battling cancer at the time. Erich explained to Gabby that Allan had been diagnosed with cancer years earlier and “was legitimately supposed to die like three times.”
While Allan survived long enough to meet the Bachelorette on Erich‘s hometown date and “really liked Gabby,” he sadly passed away on July 6, just five days before his son’s premiere on the show.
“Thankful for everything you’ve done for me,” Erich posted on Instagram July 9. “We are gonna miss the hell out of you Big AL. I love you so much dad.”
TELL US- DO YOU THINK GABBY CAN SET ASIDE ERICH’S QUESTIONABLE YEARBOOK PHOTO AND MOVE ON? OR DO YOU THINK THIS WILL BE A DEAL BREAKER FOR HER? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN LIGHT OF ERICH’S APOLOGY?
[Photo Credit: ABC/Ricky Middlesworth]