Matt James‘ season of The Bachelor has seen far more off-screen drama than anything on the actual ABC dating show, and now he’s spoken out about it. The first Black Bachelor posted a thoughtful Instagram post that addressed the racism controversy over his frontrunner Rachael Kirkconnell attending an antebellum themed frat party in college. That resulted in an awkward interview between longtime show host Chris Harrison and first Black Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, that ended up seeing Harrison step away from the show for the foreseeable future after issuing a lengthy apology. Now Matt is being cheered on by fellow members of Bachelor Nation for how he addressed the situation.
Bachelor Happy Hour podcast host and season 13 Bachelorette Rachel, 35, cheered “Yes Matt Yes” with applause emojis, while season 10 Bachelorette Andi Dorfman 33, wrote in the comments of his Feb. 22 Instagram post, “Always have and always will be proud of the kind, strong, compassionate stand up of a man you are.” Her successor, season 11 Bachelorette Kailyn Bristowe, 35, left red heart and applause emojis, while Bachelor in Paradise star Taylor Nolan left a series of applause emojis for Matt’s statement.
Matt took to Instagram to give the first major comments on the racism scandals that have swirled around his season. “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 Kirkconnell and the interview between Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison,” Matt began.
Matt continued in this post, “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 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.”
Matt James made Bachelor Nation history by becoming the first Black Bachelor for season 25. Photo credit: ABC.
In Chris and Rachel’s Feb. 9 interview, the 49-year-old defended contestant Rachael before she spoke out on the antebellum frat party photos taken in 2018. “I haven’t talked to Rachael about it, and this is where we need to have a little grace…because I have seen some stuff online — this judge, jury, executioner thing — where they’re just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into her parents and her parents’ voting record. It’s unbelievably alarming to watch this,” he told Lindsay during an interview with Extra.
Rachel told him it was “not a good look, EVER. She’s celebrating the Old South,” and Chris responded, “Is it a good look in 2018 or is it not a good look in 2021, because there’s a big difference. I don’t disagree with you. You’re 100 percent right in 2021. That was not the case in 2018. I’m not defending Rachael.” He added, “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?”
Former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay is applauding Bachelor Matt James’ post about the racism controversies surrounding his season. Photo credit: MEGA.
Matt added in his post that, “This moment has sparked critical conversations and reporting, raised important questions, and resulted in inspiring displays of solidarity from The Bachelor Nation. 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.” He ended promising, “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.”