Rachael Kirkconnell issues apology for racist actions and host steps down from show
Matt James’s season of “The Bachelor” is certainly “the most dramatic season ever,” both on and off the screen. Rachael Kirkconnell, one of the final four remaining contestants, has been at the center of a scandal regarding allegations of racist behavior.
After her appearance in the season premiere, user @maddyybierster posted a TikTok claiming that she went to high school with Kirkconnell, and was bullied by her and her friend group for “liking black guys.” Bierster later posted another video with screenshots of messages from other girls claiming to have also been bullied by Kirkconnell and her friends.
In the past few weeks, fans have found questionable posts from Kirkconnell’s social media history. These posts include people wearing MAGA hats, posing with the confederate flag in the background, as well as an old post featuring Kirkconnell’s Native American Halloween costume.
“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. Rumors are dark and nasty and can ruin people’s lives. So I would give people the benefit of the doubt, and hopefully she [Rachael] will have her time to speak on that,” said Bachelor Matt James about the scandal on Entertainment Tonight.
The most controversial photos emerged a few days after fans’ initial findings, featuring Kirkconnell at an “old south” fraternity party in 2018. The photos depict her and everyone else in their large group dressed in “antebellum plantation” attire.
Kappa Alpha banned the well-known old south function in 2016, so that nothing would be “misinterpreted and objectionable to the general public,” but the function happened anyway.
About a week later, host Chris Harrison appeared in an interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, and was asked about the situation. Harrison made the choice to defend Kirkconnell, urging the “woke police” to wait for her to make a statement before making judgements, as well as suggesting that the party was just what people did.
“My guess? These girls got dressed and went to a party and had a great time. They were 18 years old. Does that make it okay? I don’t know, Rachel, you tell me…but where is this lens we’re holding up and was that lens available and were we all looking through it in 2018?” said Harrison.
At this point, fans were very upset at both Kirkconnell and Harrison for their actions.
The next day Harrison apologized on Instagram for his words, as well as to Lindsay for not listening to her better.
The day after Kirkconnell released a public apology on Instagram for her actions.
“At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them. My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist,” says Kirkconnell.
That same day, the rest of the cast from Matt James’s season also posted a statement voicing that they denounce any defense of racism and stand behind Lindsay, who has spoken up about diversity for years as the first Black Bachelorette.
Two days later, Harrison posted another apology on Instagram that stated he would be stepping away from the show for a period of time. There has been no official announcement about who will replace him.
Matt James also posted an Instagram story echoing what the women of his season said and praised Lindsay for her advocacy.
Many have complained about the lack of inclusivity in the show for years, as James is the first Black male lead in the history of the show. This latest scandal may prompt a bigger conversation that could change the franchise.