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Rachel Lindsay Reacts to Chris Harrison Stepping Back From ‘The Bachelor’ Amid Racism Controversy

Rachel Lindsay spoke out on Monday, February 15, two days after Chris Harrison announced that he is temporarily “stepping aside” as the Bachelor host following his controversial comments about contestant Rachael Kirkconnell.

Related: Matt James, ‘Bachelor’ Ladies Stand With Rachel Lindsay in Joint Statement

“It was never my intention to see Chris Harrison step aside but it was my intention for others to see and hear this interview,” Lindsay, 35, said on Extra on Monday as she referenced her Tuesday, February 9, interview with the Bachelor franchise host that created an uproar. “It’s important to further and highlight these discussions. The only way to do that is to have these uncomfortable conversations so we can understand the underlying issues and implicit racism that exists within our society. When we can learn to recognize implicit and unconscious bias that history of our environments have taught us, then we can challenge one another to be better for ourselves but also for this society. Let’s not label, let’s not cancel, but let’s hold people accountable for their actions. Let’s set the example in this generation so that we don’t repeat the horrific mistakes from the past and so we can unify and be the change that this country needs to make this society better  for the next generation.”

Rachel Lindsay Reacts to Chris Harrison Stepping Back From 'The Bachelor' Amid Controversy
Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison. Kristina Bumphrey/Starpix/Shutterstock; ABC/Craig Sjodin

The former Bachelorette star’s statement almost a week after she interviewed Harrison, 49, about the graphic designer, who is currently vying for Bachelor Matt James‘ heart.

In the interview for Extra on Tuesday, Lindsay asked Harrison about Kirkconnell’s past behavior, which includes allegations that she “liked” racially charged pics and previously bullied a woman over her attraction to Black men.

Related: Chris Harrison's Controversial Interview About Rachael: Bachelor Nation Reacts

Harrison told Lindsay that Bachelor fans should have “a little understanding” and “a little compassion” for the Georgia native, 24, who should “have a chance to speak” for herself.

His comments prompted backlash from fans, some of whom called for him to be fired, as well as former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants. Harrison subsequently issued an apology via Instagram.

“To my Bachelor Nation family — I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology,” he wrote on Wednesday, February 10. “I have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday, I took a stance on topics about which I should have been better informed. While I do not speak for Rachael Kirkconnell, my intentions were simply to ask for grace in offering her an opportunity to speak on her own behalf.”

“What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that I am so deeply sorry,” he added. “I also apologize to my friend Rachel Lindsay for not listening to her better on a topic she has first hand understanding of, and humbly thank the members of Bachelor Nation who have reached out to me to hold me accountable. I promise to do better.”

Related: Rachel Lindsay Gives New Details of Chris Harrison Interview: 'He Went Off'

In an appearance on the “Higher Learning” podcast on Friday, February 12, Lindsay said that Harrison’s “privilege was on display” during their Extra interview, where he shrugged off the attorney’s question about Kirkconnell attending an antebellum-themed party on a Georgia plantation in 2018.

“These girls got dressed up and went to a party and had a great time, they were 18 years old. Now, does that make it OK? I don’t know Rachel, you tell me. Were we all looking through [that lens] in 2018?” Harrison told her.

“During that conversation, he talked over me and at me, during that conversation,” Lindsay said on Friday. “He never gave me room to talk. And he never gave me room to share my perspective. He wasn’t trying to hear it. He was just trying to be heard. And that’s because I felt like he had an agenda that he was trying to push.”

Us editors discuss Colton Underwood’s coming out in this Here for the Right Reasons podcast highlight!

In a statement on Instagram on Saturday, February 13, Harrison wrote that after consulting with Warner Bros. and ABC he is “stepping aside” from The Bachelor “for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special.”

“I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before,” he added. “I want to ensure our cast and crew members, to my friends, colleagues and our fans: this is not just a moment, but a commitment to much greater understanding that I will actively make every day.”

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