Coming together. Bachelor Nation is showing their support for Bachelor Matt James after he addressed Chris Harrison‘s controversial interview with Rachel Lindsay and season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell‘s racially charged posts.
“The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life, and while there are several episodes left of the season,” the North Carolina native, 29, posted via Instagram on Monday, February 22. “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.”
James, who was named the first Black Bachelor in June 2020, then shared that he’s “learning about these situations in real time,” referring to Harrison’s February 9 interview with Lindsay, during which he defended Kirkconnell, 24, after photos surfaced of her at an Old South party in 2018. Harrison, 49, also spoke over Lindsay, 35, multiple times during the interview — something he later apologized for.
“It has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly. Chris’ 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,” James continued in his statement. “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.”
The ABC Food Tours founder noted that “critical conversations” and “important questions” have now been asked and new forms of “solidarity” within Bachelor Nation have been created.
“It has also pushed me to reevaluate and process what my experience on The Bachelor represents, not just for me, but for all the contestants of color, especially the Black contestants of this season and seasons past, and for you, the viewers at home,” he said. “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 infection point that results in real and institutional change for the better.”
Days after the backlash from his Extra interview, the Perfect Letter author announced he will be taking a break from his hosting duties and will not appear on the After the Final Rose special. “I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong,” he wrote in a statement on February 13. Kirkconnell also apologized, admitting via Instagram, “I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.”
Scroll through the gallery below to see how Bachelor Nation is showing their support to James.