Earlier this month, Harrison appeared on Extra for an interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, where she asked him about the racism allegations against Rachael Kirkconnell. As the season aired, fans discovered a lot of problematic behavior throughout the Georgia native’s social media, including pictures of her at an “Old South” themed sorority party a few years ago.
During the interview, fans witnessed Harrison jump through hoops to defend Rachael, saying “50 million people” went to these types of party in 2018, also throwing shots at the “woke police” multiple times by acting like things that are offensive and racist in 2020 weren’t just 2 years prior.
That photo and other instances of racism and cultural appropriation had been plaguing Rachael for months before this, but it was Harrison’s interview and the backlash that followed that finally caused her to apologize.
Now, The Bachelor is down to the final three, and Kirkconnell is still in the running to marry the show’s lead, Matt James. Finally, James has spoken out about his potential future wife Rachael’s racist past along with Chris Harrison’s actions during that interview. The 29-year-old took to Instagram where he wrote a lengthy statement detailing his thoughts on the situation.
“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 Kirkconnnell and the interview between Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison,” he wrote 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. 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,” he continued. “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 wrapped up his statement, writing, “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.”
Harrison has since apologized for his startling interview with Rachel Lindsay and acknowledged his wrongdoing to fans. “What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that, I am deeply sorry,” he shared in a statement on Instagram.
As the backlash began to boil over, Harrison followed up with another open letter to fans, further explaining himself and his decision to step down from filming the reunion special.
“The historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions. To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special,” Harrison revealed. “I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before,” he added.