The current star of “The Bachelor,” Matt James, is speaking out about the recent allegations of racism the show has faced in the past weeks. Fans of the “Bachelor” franchise have eagerly awaited James’ feelings on the topic, which he issued on Monday via Instagram.
In his statement, James responded to photos that resurfaced of contestant, Rachael Kirkconnell, who reportedly attended an “Old South” antebellum-themed party in 2018. After Kirkconnell was accused of vicious racism, the 19-year host of the show, Chris Harrison, appeared on an interview with Rachel Lindsay, the first black “Bachelorette.” He said multiple times that he did not defend Kirkconnell, but he felt she deserved a chance to speak for herself. The “woke police,” as described by Harrison in the interview, then came for him. He has since stepped aside, issuing two apologies for his statements.
As reported by The Daily Wire,
Lindsay, the first black star of “The Bachelorette,” has since said it was the right move for Harrison to step aside, saying he needs to think about his words. She also said she cannot yet fully accept his apology, noting her “lived experience” and suggesting his apology was too late.
“Chris has stepped aside, which I think is the right decision because, like he said, he needs to take time to get educated and on a profound and productive level to use his word,” she said, according to Fox News. “And I think he needs to understand what was done, what was wrong, and what he said in that interview, and he needs time. He’s stepped away to do that.”
The “Bachelorette” star, who was speaking to Harrison when he made the comments, said she was “stunned” the host made the comments publicly, though she admitted the two had similar private discussions before.
James is the first black “Bachelor” to star on the show. In his statement, he writes, “The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life,” noting the importance of his addressing the controversy that came to the show after the season wrapped filming.
James said that he has been learning of the events in real time, adding that “it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly.”
He continued, “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 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,” he said.
“This moment has sparked critical conversations and reporting, raised important questions, and resulted in inspiring displays of solidarity from The Bachelor nation,” James continued. “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.
“I will continue to process this experience, and you will hear more from me in the end,” he said. “My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better.”
Rachel Lindsay is reportedly weighing the possibility of hosting the After the Final Rose special that airs once a contestant has been chosen now that Chris Harrison will no longer be hosting.
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