Matt James, the first black romantic lead role for ABC The bachelor, spoke out against the controversy surrounding host Chris Harrison and candidate Rachael Kirkconnell. On Monday, James posted a statement on Instagram condemning both Harrison’s and Kirkconnell’s actions.
“The reality is that I am learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to be clear about it,” he wrote. “Chris’s failure to receive and understand the emotional work that my friend Rachel Lindsay did in graciously and patiently clarifying the racist story of Antebellum South, a painful story that every American should fully understand, was troubling and painful to look at. “
James continues: “As the Blacks and Allies immediately knew and understood, this was a clear reflection of a much larger problem that the Bachelor franchise has not adequately addressed in years. “
Earlier this month, Kirkconnell received a backlash after photos re-emerged showing the 24-year-old attended a fraternity celebration themed antebellum plantation in 2018. The candidate apologized for the old photos and stated that she was ignorant and that her “ignorance was racist”.
Kirkconnell’s photos became the subject of an interview between Harrison and candidate Lindsay. By doing extra In the interview, Harrison defended the season’s top runner, noting that the photos were taken a long time ago, and suggested that Kirkconnell had become a target of the demolition culture. Following the interview and backlash on social media, Harrison stepped aside as a presenter and will not appear on the episode of the series.
Given that racism and racial issues are in the spotlight of the undergraduate nation, James said the controversy has led him to “reevaluate and process my undergraduate experience” for colored candidates, especially black candidates.
“I will process this experience further and you will hear more from me in the end,” he wrote. “My greatest prayer is that this will be a turning point that will lead to real and institutional change for the better.”
See James’ full statement below.