That latest Bachelor Nation controversy is making the rounds, this time with the revelation and photographic proof that contestant Rachael Kirkconnell attended an "antebellum plantation themed" fraternity formal in 2018. Kirkconnell competed on the first Black Bachelor Matt James' season.
Bachelor host Chris Harrison spoke with Rachael Lindsay, the first Black Bachelorette, on Extra, and he seemed to excuse Kirkconnell's behavior. "I haven't talked to Rachael about it," he shared. "And this is, again, where we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion. Because I've seen some stuff online—again this judge-jury-executioner thing—where people are just tearing this girl's life apart and diving into, like, her parents and her parents' voting record. It's unbelievably alarming to watch this. I haven't heard Rachael speak on this yet. And until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this?"
Lindsay quickly corrected him, saying that the photos were "not a good look ever," and many past participants issued statements denouncing Harrison's enabling. Harrison ended up issuing an apology on his Instagram account. "I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology," he wrote. "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 per that perpetuates racism, and for that I am so deeply sorry. 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."
However, the damage had been done, and Harrison was dragged by many on Twitter. "Chris Harrison really said 'yes it's bad by 2021 standards but was it bad by 2018 standards' out of his grown mouth," writer Alanna Bennett tweeted. "Society has progressed beyond the need for chris harrison," wrote another Bachelor fan. "OK SO WHEN IS RACHEL LINDSAY REPLACING CHRIS HARRISON," one Twitter user suggested. "Not Chris Harrison acting like we didn't know the antebellum south was bad in 2018," another wrote. Kirkconnell ended up posting an apology on social media. "I hear you, I am here to say I was wrong," she wrote. "At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them. My age or when it happened doesn’t excuse anything. They are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist."