All but one Bachelor contestant from the current season of the show have posted a joint statement denouncing “any defense of racism.” Thirty-six out of 37 contestants shared the same message on social media, including the 10 still vying for lead Matt James’s heart, after host Chris Harrison defended the racist actions of front-runner Rachael Kirkconnell. “We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism,” the statement reads. “Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals. These experiences are not to be exploited and tokenized.”
The statement continues, standing with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay: “Lindsay continues to advocate with ‘grace’ for individuals who identify as BIPOC within this franchise. Just because she is speaking the loudest, doesn’t mean she is alone. We stand with her, we hear her, and we advocate for change alongside her.” Lindsay reposted the statement on her Instagram Story, saying, “This truly moved me.” The one contestant who did not repost was Amber Andrews, a nursing student from California eliminated in week one.
The statement comes after Harrison strongly defended Kirkconnell to Lindsay on Extra, saying she has “just been thrown to the lions,” and “we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion.” In recent months, social-media users found out that Kirkconnell attended an antebellum-themed fraternity formal in 2018, and screenshots emerged showing that she liked photos featuring the Confederate flag and shared QAnon conspiracy theories. On Extra, Lindsay, also the first Black Bachelorette, pressed Harrison on the antebellum-party photos, saying, “Well, the picture is from 2018 at an ‘Old South’ antebellum party,” Lindsay said. “It’s not a good look.” Harrison replied, “Is it not a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021?”
Harrison later apologized for his words, saying, “What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that I am so deeply sorry.” Kirkconnell also apologized last night, with the Georgia native acknowledging she was “ignorant, but [her] ignorance was racist.” She also reposted the contestants’ joint statement on her social media.