UPDATE (Feb. 22 2021 — 9pm ET): Bachelor star Matt James finally broke his silence on Rachael’s racist photo, as well as Chris Harrison excusing that behavior during an interview with Rachel Lindsay, when he took to Instagram on Feb. 22, following a new episode of the series. In a lengthy message, he wrote, “Watching 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.” To read his entire statement, click here.
ORIGINAL STORY: As season 25 of The Bachelor has been airing, one contestant, Rachael Kirkconnell, is being called out on social media for alleged actions from her past. After weeks of accusations that she exhibited racist behavior in her past, Rachael has spoken out. “At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them,” she wrote. “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.” See her full statement here:
The claims against Rachael began after she was confirmed as a contestant who would be vying for Matt James‘ heart on The Bachelor. A woman, who claimed to be one of Rachael’s former classmates, took to TikTok to accuse the reality star of “bullying” her in high school. The woman claimed that Rachael “ridiculed” her for “liking Black guys” while they were in school together. This video led others to come forward with similar claims.
Then, another woman on TikTok dug into the archives to find controversial social media posts that Rachael had allegedly “liked” online. Some of her alleged likes included a photo of women standing in front of a confederate flag, as well as a shot of a woman wearing a Make America Great Again hat. The TikToker also claimed that Rachel had previously re-posted QAnon conspiracy theories on her page. The claims against Rachael were especially shocking, as she appeared on The Bachelor’s most historic season — Matt was the first Black man to be named the Bachelor.
For weeks, Rachael did not comment on the controversy. However, after photos surfaced that showed her attending an antebellum party in college, the backlash got even worse. Rachael appears to be a frontrunner on The Bachelor, too, as Matt told her he was falling in love with her during their one-on-one date on Feb. 1. When Matt was asked about the situation in a Feb. 2 interview, he urged the public not to pass judgment without knowing all the facts.
“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,” Matt admitted to Entertainment Tonight. “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. There’s a lot of stuff going around about the women that were involved in the show. I would just give them a chance to kind of have their piece, whether that is someone who was gone night one, or someone who went home last night. Everyone has a story. I would just be receptive to that.”