With Matt James’s Bachelor season ending with a brutal breakup and “uncomfortable” conversations about being Black in America, winner turned loser Rachael Kirkconnell is once again apologizing for her racist and offensive behavior. Kirkconnell, who was ultimately dumped by James due to her past actions, explained during the After the Final Rose finale that she never gave second thought to attending an antebellum-themed party in college, which made looking back at the jubilant photographs difficult. “I saw someone who was living in this ignorance without even, like, thinking about who it would be hurting,” she explained to guest host Emmanuel Acho. “You know, I never once asked myself at any point, ‘What’s the tradition behind this? What does this represent? Why do we wear those dresses?’ I’m not going to sit here and say that I didn’t know any better because I could’ve easily asked myself those questions. You know, I never took the time to make that connection, ’cause if I would’ve taken the time, I easily could’ve understood what was wrong with it.”
When asked by Acho why she took so long to issue an apology back in February, Kirkconnell responded by saying she wanted to “really understand exactly why people were so hurt” by her actions. “So for him to end things, he must’ve been very, very hurt by everything,” Kirkconnell continued, referring to James. “It was hard because I lost the love of my life, but in the process of that, I hurt him while doing so. I love him so much and I always will. And I do feel like I finally do know what real love feels like.” While Kirkconnell couldn’t clarify where her “ignorance” stemmed from, she noted that it nonetheless “doesn’t make it right and that doesn’t make it okay.”
Following her solo interview, Kirkconnell was joined by James for several minutes where she apologized to him directly for her past actions. “I really just want to take the time to say I’m really sorry and once I really tried to put myself into your shoes as much as I could, I really do think that our relationship was very strong and the love that we shared was very real, so for you to end things, I realize that that must’ve been really hard for you as well to where you must’ve been hurting,” she told him. “And I’m just wanting to say I’m really sorry for not understanding that initially and that I’m really sorry that I hurt you.” James confirmed that they will not be reconciling, and he also refused to hug Kirkconnell good-bye. “I don’t know if it’ll ever not hurt hearing those things,” he offered as the final word.
In addition to attending and visibly enjoying the antebellum-South-themed party in college, Kirkconnell had a history of “liking” social-media photos of Confederate flags. A TikTok user also alleged that Kirkconnell bullied her in high school for dating Black men. Meanwhile, James’s lovely runner-up contestant, Michelle Young, will be one of two (two!) new Bachelorette leads. We felt we needed to sage the article with one piece of pleasant news.
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