Matt James is calling recent news surrounding the Bachelor franchise “troubling” as he breaks his silence on contestant Rachael Kirkconnell and host Chris Harrison.
Over the course of the season, Rachael was accused of attending an antebellum party in 2018, as well as liking racist social media posts. She later apologized for her actions.
In the midst of the controversy, “Extra’s” Rachel Lindsay, the first Black Bachelorette, interviewed Chris Harrison. He came under fire for defending Rachael, and temporarily stepped aside as host. Harrison has also apologized.
James, who is the first Black Bachelor, posted on Instagram, “The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life, and 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. Chris’s 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 immediately, was troubling and painful to watch. 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.”
Matt went on, “This moment has sparked critical conversations and reporting, raised important questions, and resulted in inspiring displays of solidarity from The Bachelor nation. 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.”
He says he is still processing what has transpired, and promised “you will hear more from me in the end.”
James closed with, “My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better.”
After Chris stepped aside as host, Rachel Lindsay reflected on her interview with Harrison.
She told Billy Bush, “I was stunned. Not at what was being said, because as Chris referenced in that interview, we have had these conversations.
I wasn’t shocked at the content of what he was saying… in public, where other people can hear what you think, and your, your thoughts may be a bit controversial, but I remember also thinking, ‘This is something that needs to be heard. This is something that needs to be seen.’ And I felt a duty.”
Lindsay went on to explain why she felt it was her duty, saying, “Because when you think of racism, you think explicit racism… you think wearing a white hood, you know? Saying things that are derogatory or offensive. That’s explicit racism, but then there’s implicit racism, where you have these unconscious biases and stereotypes and misconceptions of certain groups, and that’s what we were seeing in that interview, and I think it was a moment for people to recognize what was being said and to learn and grow from it, which is what we’re seeing happen now with Chris.”
Watch her interview with Harrison below.