The fallout from The Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s racist past actions — and host Chris Harrison’s subsequent defense of Kirkconnell — continues.
Following Harrison’s decision to temporarily step aside from the franchise, current Bachelor Matt James — the first Black Bachelor in the series thus far — has issued a statement addressing the events of the past few weeks.
In the statement, James refers to the resurfaced photos of Kirkconnell attending an antebellum party as “incredibly disappointing” and that, along with Harrison’s confrontation with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, the recent events “[have] been devastating and heartbreaking.”
“Chris’ failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explaining the racist history of the Antebellum South, a painful history that every American should understand intimately, was troubling and painful to watch,” he stated.
“As Black people and allies immediately knew and understood, it was a clear reflection of a much larger issue that The Bachelor franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years.”
Along with noting the “inspiring displays of solidarity” that resulted from the “critical conversations and reporting,” James said that the last few weeks have “pushed me to reevaluate and process what my experience on The Bachelor represents, not just for me but for all of the contestants of color, especially the Black contestants of this season and seasons past, and for you, the viewers at home.”
After suggesting that he’ll comment more on everything in the future, he issued a call for real change within the franchise as a result of recent events.
“My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better.”