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Matt James Addresses Chris Harrison and Rachael Kirkconnell Controversy

The Bachelor is weighing in. Matt James broke his silence on the controversial feedback Chris Harrison made about season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell throughout the host’s Tuesday, February 9, interview with Rachel Lindsay on Extra, and shared a prolonged assertion a few weeks afterward February 22.

“I am beyond grateful to have Rachel as a mentor during this season. Your advocacy of BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and People of Color] people in the franchise is invaluable. I stand with you and the rest of the women advocating for change and accountability,” the North Carolina native, 29, captioned an Instagram Story that includes a photograph of the season 13 Bachelorette, 35, on Friday, February 12.

Courtesy of Matt James/Instagram; Rachel Lindsay/Instagram

He added some ideas in a press release on his Instagram feed on Monday, February 22, earlier than the hometown dates episode of the present. “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 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 wrote. “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’ 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.”

“This moment has sparked critical conversations and reporting, raised important questions, and resulted in inspiring displays of solidarity from The Bachelor nation,” he added. “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. My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better.”

After The Bachelor premiered on January 4, accusations in opposition to Rachael of previous racist habits started to pop up all around the web. On January 11, a woman on TikTok alleged the Cumming, Georgia, native as soon as bullied her for “liking Black men.”

On January 26, an additional woman on TikTok claimed the 24-year-old “liked” racist photographs on Instagram — together with an image of two folks standing in entrance of a Accomplice flag, in addition to a bunch of white girls who seemed to be dressed up as Mexican males.

On February 7, photographs of Rachael at an “Old South” plantation social gathering at Georgia Faculty & State College in 2018 resurfaced. The entire girls in attendance have been wearing Antebellum-style robes.

Previous to his assertion, Matt did acknowledge the outrage over Rachael’s previous. “I have not spoken to anybody since the show ended, but I would say that you have to be really careful about what you are doing on social media,” he instructed Entertainment Tonight on February 2. “Rumors are dark and nasty and can ruin people’s lives. So, I would give people the benefit of the doubt, and hopefully she will have her time to speak on that.”

Rachael did communicate out on February 11, admitting there was “truth” to the accusations and apologizing. “I hear you, and I’m here to say I was wrong,” she wrote in a prolonged Instagram put up. “At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them. They are not acceptable or OK in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist. I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended.”

Chris, 49, spoke with Rachel Lindsay throughout a digital look on Further two days earlier. “First and foremost, I don’t know. I haven’t talked to Rachael about it. And this is, again, where we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion,” the longtime host started.

“Because I’ve seen some stuff online — again this judge-jury-executioner thing — where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into, like, her parents and her parents’ voting record. It’s unbelievably alarming to watch this,” Chris continued. “I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet. And until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this?”

Rachel, who was the primary Black Bachelorette, identified Rachael’s celebration of the “Old South” was “not a good look,” to which Chris replied, “You’re 100 percent right in 2021. That was not the case in 2018. And again, I’m not defending Rachael. I just know that, I don’t know, 50 million people did that in 2018. That was a type of party that a lot of people went to. And again, I’m not defending it; I didn’t go to it.” In her personal apology, Rachael seemingly responded to Chris’ protection, saying, “My age or when it happened does not excuse anything.”

After receiving fast backlash, Chris issued a prolonged apology of his personal on his Instagram Story. “My intentions were simply to ask for grace in offering her an opportunity to speak on her own behalf,” he wrote. “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.”

Since then, Bachelor Nation alumni proceed to talk out in opposition to Chris and in help of Rachel. Some people are even suggesting he get replaced because the franchise’s host.

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