"Bachelor" star Matt James is calling the ABC franchise's latest racism controversy "devastating," adding that it's "a clear reflection of a much l
“Bachelor” star Matt James is calling the ABC franchise’s latest racism controversy “devastating,” adding that it’s “a clear reflection of a much larger issue.”
The franchise’s first Black “Bachelor” and the current star of Season 25 took to Instagram Monday to address allegations surrounding his current front-runner Rachael Kirkconnell and host Chris Harrison, the latter who announced he’s “stepping aside” from the show after previously defending Kirkconnell.
Kirkconnell is facing backlash for liking Confederate flag-related TikToks and, more recently, for a resurfaced photo that appears to show her attending a plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018.
During a recent interview on “Extra” with Rachel Lindsay, the franchise’s first Black ‘Bachelorette,’ Harrison defended Kirkconnell’s past racially-insensitive behavior by saying “we need to have a little grace.”
“The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life,” James, 29, wrote in a statement posted to Instagram. “While there are several episodes left of the season, it is important that I take the time to address the troubling information that has come to light since we wrapped filming, including the incredibly disappointing photos of Rachael Kirkconnell and the interview between Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison.
He continued: “The reality is that I’m learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly.”
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During Harrison’s exchange with Lindsay, the reality host repeatedly talked over the former Bachelorette and invoked the phrase “woke police.”
On Monday, James called the interview “painful to watch.”
“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,” James wrote. “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.”
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James said the ordeal has sparked “critical conversations” and “resulted in inspiring displays of solidarity” among prominent former franchise stars and contestants, who hailed Harrison’s decision to step down “for a period of time.”
“It has also 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,” James added.
James said viewers will “hear more from me” on the matter after he’s had more time to “process this experience.” He added, “My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better.”
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Kirkconnell is among James’ final four, including Bri Springs, Michelle Young and Serena Pitt. Weeks after Kirkconnell’s past came to light, the Season 25 frontrunner apologized for her actions, which she condemned as “offensive and racist” in a statement on her Instagram Feb. 11.
“I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist,” Kirkconnell wrote. “I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended. I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me.
“The Bachelor” continues Monday with Week 8’s hometown dates.
Contributing: Rasha Ali, Hannah Yasharoff