Showing solidarity. Matt James addressed the controversy surrounding Chris Harrison’s Bachelor stepdown following his comments about season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell and allegations of racism.
“The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life, and while there are several episodes left of the season,” James, 29, wrote 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.”
The ABC Food Tours founder, who was named the first Black Bachelor in June 2020, revealed that he has been processing the scandal since Harrison’s controversial interview with Lindsay, 35, earlier this month. In his conversation with the former Bachelorette lead, the Bachelor Nation host, 49, came to Kirkconnell’s defense after she was accused of racist actions.
“The reality is that I’m learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly,” James explained. “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.”
He noted that “Black people and allies immediately knew and understood” what was wrong with Harrison’s reaction to questions about Kirkconnell’s past actions — including attending a plantation-themed college event in 2018 and “liking” photos that had a confederate flag in the background.
“It was a clear reflection of a much larger issue that The Bachelor franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years,” James said. “This moment has sparked critical conversations and reporting, raised important questions, and resulted in inspiring displays of solidarity from The Bachelor nation.”
On a personal note, he said it has “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.”
The Wake Forest University alum vowed that fans will “hear more from me in the end” as he continues to process what has transpired.
“My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better,” he concluded.