Earlier this month, Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell apologized after past racially insensitive social-media posts, including photos from an antebellum South-themed party in 2018, emerged online, and Bachelor host Chris Harrison temporarily stepped away from his job after defending Kirkconnell in an Extra interview with the first Black Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay; the ABC show host, too, apologized for “wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism.” Now, the Bachelor himself Matt James, the first Black Bachelor of the series, weighs in on what his experience has been seeing photos of his presumed front-runner attending an “offensive and racist” event and watching his fellow franchise star explain why Black people might be filled with dread at the idea of a party set in the pre-Civil War South. In a word, Matt James feels bad.
“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 writes on Instagram.
“The reality is that I’m learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly,” says James. “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 intimately, 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.”
James continues, “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.”
The current Bachelor concludes, “I will continue to process this experience, and you will hear more from me in the end. My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better.”