A participant on the 26th season of “The Bachelor” has earned online backlash for making racially charged jokes in a TikTok video poking fun at a fellow contestant.
Marlena Wesh had just showcased her roasting skills on the dating reality show’s fifth episode this season (aired on Feb. 7) when she took to the social media platform to post some jokes that had been left on the cutting room floor – where they probably should have stayed.
In the now-deleted TikTok post, the 30-year-old former Olympic sprinter dished out jabs and jokes about the other women’s looks and demeanors before falling back on racist stereotypes to describe Sarah Hamrick, who is part Vietnamese.
“Sarah, my little Asian persuasion, OK? One thing’s for certain and two things for damn sure, if Clayton ends up with Sarah, at least we know he’s gonna get a happy ending,” said the Haitian American sprinter in the clip.
Wesh later addressed the insensitive nature of her comments in a public apology posted on her Instagram account saying that she had also had a private conversation with Hamrick about the joke.
“I needed a moment to gather myself to truly understand how the context of my joke could harm the Asian community,” the reality star wrote. “As a woman of color myself that has dealt with microaggressions pertaining to my culture, my intention was never to hurt anyone and I see that my comment did just that. I perpetuated a dangerous stereotype and because of that I want to truly apologize to all that were offended and hurt by such an ignorant and cruel comment.”
She then pledged to use the incident as a learning experience as well as an opportunity to grow and do better moving forward.
Wesh’s post received positive responses from commenters, including Hamwrick herself, who commented, “My girl! You have the best heart and are one of the most caring women I’ve ever met, who especially stands up for what is right. I love you!”
Hamwrick, who is the youngest contestant this season at age 23, also posted an Instagram story sharing that she and Wesh shared a room together on the show and had talked about their experiences as women of color.
“We have spoken and are aware that what was said presents dangerous stereotypes for Asian women,” she shared. “While we can acknowledge that the joke was too far, please show Marlena grace, as I know she is truly sorry and would never intentionally cause harm.”
Hamrick had earlier hinted on social media at some jokes aimed at her race that were not aired on the show.
“I was ‘roasted’ for my age, race, appearance, etc. (apparently called explicit names) but can laugh bc I know how to take a joke,” she wrote in an Instagram story a day after the episode aired.