'The Bachelor' Matt James Breaks Silence on Chris Harrison and Rachael Kirkconnell Racism Controversy

Bachelor Nation has been at the center of controversy lately due to Chris Harrison's defense of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell's alleged pre-show racist actions. Harrison seemingly downplayed the allegations during an Extra interview with former Bachelorette lead Rachel Lindsay, during which he deflected and even mentioned the "woke police" in regards to this controversy (Harrison has since apologized for his stance and announced that he will take a step back from the franchise and will not appear on the upcoming After the Final Rose special). Now, current Bachelor lead Matt James has broken his silence on this matter, posting a statement about the situation to Instagram on Monday evening.

James began his statement by writing that these past couple of weeks have been some of the most "challenging" in his life. In particular, he addressed the "troubling" updates that have taken place within Bachelor Nation, including Harrison's interview with Lindsay and the resurfacing of photos of Kirkconnell, who is currently competing on his season of The Bachelor, at an "antebellum plantation themed" fraternity formal in 2018 (individuals have also alleged that Kirkconnell engaged in inappropriate social media behavior, as she supposedly liked racially insensitive photos). James wrote, "The reality is that I'm learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly."

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The Bachelor lead continued to note that Harrison's interview with Lindsay gave him cause for concern. He wrote that Harrison's "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 wrote that this interview exemplified "a much larger issue that The Bachelor franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years."

The reality star continued to write that this whole situation has sparked many necessary conversations about the future of The Bachelor franchise and that he will also be reevaluating his own experience on the show "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." James ended his statement by noting that he will "continue to process this experience" and that he will speak out more about the topic in the future. He added, "My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better."