“Over the last few weeks, since I put my statement out, I’ve gotten a lot of messages,” the 24-year-old said in a seven-and-a-half-minute Instagram video on Thursday, February 25. “I’ve gotten a lot of people asking me, ‘Well, what have you done to change since then?’ And I’ve also had a lot of people message me saying that they aren’t understanding why people are so upset, but they want to, and they’ve asked for resources, which I think is great. But then there’s also people messaging me saying, ‘You’ve done nothing wrong. Don’t listen to people.’”
Kirkconnell stressed the importance of “white people stepping up and taking accountability” for their actions.
“I’ve just been hesitant to post links and books and any resources because I don’t want people thinking that it’s performative or that it’s something that I don’t truly stand by,” she said. “And I get it. I hear you. There are things out there that completely validate your opinions and your anger toward me. But I’ve come to realize that sitting aside and hiding in the corner … doesn’t help anyone or anything. Even if that is what people think when I speak on these subjects of injustice and racism, that’s not what really matters.”
The Georgia native told her Instagram followers that she ultimately decided to use her voice to “shine a light” on racial issues because staying silent would not create a positive change.
“If you are in my comments or defending me anywhere, telling people that I did nothing wrong, that there’s nothing to be hurt about, there’s nothing to be angry about or offended about, please stop,” she added. “That’s not our place to tell people what they can and can’t be offended about. That’s wrong, and that’s part of the problem.”
Kirkconnell was criticized on social media in January after a former classmate accused her of being racist in high school in a viral TikTok video. Photos of the graphic designer at a plantation-themed college party later surfaced online in addition to screenshots of her “liking” photos of friends posing with Confederate flags.
Kirkconnell initially apologized via Instagram on February 11, writing in part that she “didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them.”
The controversy continued to make headlines after Chris Harrison defended Matt James’ front-runner during an Extra interview with Rachel Lindsay, who was the first Black Bachelorette. The show’s host, 49, apologized for his comments before announcing on February 13 that he would be “stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special.”
As the first Black Bachelor, James, 29, denounced Kirkconnell and Harrison’s “troubling” actions via Instagram on Monday, February 22, calling them “a clear reflection of a much larger issue that The Bachelor franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years.”
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