23 Feb Matt James Releases Statement on ‘Bachelor’ Racism Scandals
Matt James has released a highly anticipated statement regarding the racial scandals that have tainted this season.
James addressed the controversies surrounding Chris Harrison and current frontrunner, Rachael Kirkconnell. As this season comes close to the end, James finally shared how he’s feeling about what has transpired.
Matt James’ Statement
Racial allegations against contestant, Rachael Kirkconnell, surfaced weeks ago but things went even further when photos surfaced of Kirkconnell at an Old South Antebellum party in 2018.
After Chris Harrison’s shocking interview with Rachel Lindsay, many were waiting for James to speak out.
“The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging in my life, and while there are several episodes left of the season, it is important that I take the time to address the troubling information that has come to light since we wrapped filming,” began James. “Including the incredibly disappointed photos of Rachael Kirkconnell and the interview between Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison.”
James made it clear that he knew none of this information prior, and is finding out everything at the same time we are.
“The reality is that I’m learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly,” he said.
Addressing Chris Harrison
In an interview with former “Bachelorette”, Rachel Lindsay, Chris Harrison caused controversy when he seemed to be defending Kirkconnell. Harrison questioned whether Kirkconnell’s actions are a bad look in general, or just a bad look in 2021 due to the “woke police.”
On top of that, the way Harrison was speaking to Lindsay, a black woman who is the most affected by Kirkconnell’s actions, did not sit right with people.
After the women of this season, and other Bachelor Nation member’s spoke out, Harrison apologized and has since stepped away from the franchise.
“Chris’s failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explain the racist history of the Antebellum South, a painful history that every American should understand intimately, was troubling and painful to watch,” James said.
Rachael Kirkconnell’s Actions
Antebellum parties in the South have a negative reputation and a close tie to racism and slavery. Essentially, these parties celebrate the old South. This is celebrating a time pre-Civil War when slavery was still legal and plantations were a common thing.
The university Kirkconnell attended banned this theme two years earlier in 2016, due to the racism that is associated with the party. Kirkconnell has released a statement on her Instagram taking ownership for her racist actions.
James explained how this moment has shown the light directly at the racism that has surrounded the franchise for years.
“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,” he continued.
James acknowledged the solidarity Bachelor Nation has shown in denouncing Harrison and Kirkconnell’s actions, but also said this has caused him to reevaluate his whole experience.
“It has also pushed me to reevaluate and process what my experiences on The Bachelor represents,” James said. “Not just for me, but for all of the contestants of color, especially the Black contestants of this season and seasons past, and for you the viewers at home.”
“I will continue to process this experience, and you will hear more from me in the end,” he concluded. “My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better.”