White contestant dating first Black ‘Bachelor’ apologizes for racist past, host dragged for defending her

This week, allegations of racism on several fronts rocked the 'Bachelor' world

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A white contestant on ABC’s The Bachelor – who is heavily speculated to be a front runner for the first Black bachelor’s heart – is now publicly apologizing after fans discovered her racist and problematic past.

Thursday, Rachael Kirkconnell, a 24-year-old graphic artist from Cumming, Georgia, issued a public apology via Instagram after fans of the wildly popular reality show uncovered pictures of her attending an antebellum plantation-themed frat party. 

READ MORE: Justin Timberlake apologizes to Janet Jackson, Britney Spears for past actions

After the photos emerged last month, there were also claims made that Kirkconnell once “ridiculed” a woman for dating Black men, an allegation that is particularly ironic given she is now currently attempting to do the same thing in front of millions of viewers.

Bachelor Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell

There are additional claims made that she shared QAnon conspiracy posts. QAnon is a group of pro-Trump conservatives who have gained a reputation for spreading false information about COVID-19, attacking the Black Lives Matter movement, and most infamously, are believed to have helped organize the siege at the Capitol.

 QAnon believes that “a group of Satan-worshiping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics and media,” explains The New York Times.

Chris Harrison Rachael Kirkconnell Bachelor thegrio.com
‘Bachelor’ host Chris Harrison and contestant Rachael Kirkconnell (Getty, ABC)

This season’s bachelor Matt James, the first Black male to look for love on the reality franchise, is smitten with Kirkconnell and has even confessed to her that he is falling in love with her. But after weeks of being slammed on social media, she finally addressed the criticism that she’s received from angry fans.

“While there have been rumors circulating, there have also been truths that have come to light that I need to address. I hear you, and I’m here to say I was wrong,” Kirkconnell said in her lengthy mea culpa.

“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,” she concedes.

“I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended. I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me,” she concludes. “I am learning and will continue to learn how to be antiracist, because it’s important to speak up in the moment and not after you’re called out.”

READ MORE: Dave Chappelle thanks fans for boycotting ‘Chappelle’s Show’: ‘I got my name back’

Longtime Bachelor host Chris Harrison is now also under fire after he publicly defended Kirkconnell during an Extra interview with Rachel Lindsay, the franchise’s first Black Bachelorette. In response to Harrison’s comments asking people to “show grace” to racial oppression, dozens of former Bachelor contestants have issued a group statement denouncing Harrison’s sentiments.

“We are the women of Bachelor Season 25,” their joint statement read via Instagram on Thursday, Feb. 11. “Twenty-five women who identify as BIPOC were cast on this historic season that was meant to represent change. We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism.”

“Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals. These experiences are not to be exploited or tokenized,” the statement continued. “Rachel Lindsay continues to advocate with ‘grace’ for individuals who identify as BIPOC within this franchise. Just because she is speaking the loudest, doesn’t mean she is alone. We stand with her, we hear her, and we advocate for change alongside her.”

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