The big controversy of Matt James' season of The Bachelor was the revelation that contestant Rachael Kirkconnell participated in an "antebellum plantation themed" fraternity formal in 2018. Considering the fact that James was the first Black Bachelor, this was a particularly bad look. Kirkconnell issued a lengthy apology on her Instagram account on Thursday night.
"While there have been rumors circulating, there have also been truths that have come to light that I need to address," Kirkconnell wrote. "I hear you, I am here to say I was wrong. 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."
View this post on Instagram
Kirkconnell continued, offering a more specific apology. "I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended," she wrote. "I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me. I am learning and will continue to learn how to be antiracist, because it’s important to speak up in the moment and not after you’re called out. If you are a person who doesn’t understand the offense in question, I urge you to learn from my mistakes and encourage you to use them as a teachable moment. "
Kirkconnell went on to thank her family for how they raised her and how they "always encouraged me to have my own views, opinions, and beliefs." She also acknowledged that these apology statements are a dime a dozen and that people might be tired of hearing them.
"As I was thinking about what I wanted to say, I couldn’t help but think about how sick people must be of reading these kinds of statements," she said. "How a person didn’t realize the trauma that their actions would inflict on other people. It must get so exhausting. I want to put my energy towards preventing people from making the same offensive mistakes that I made in the first place, and I hope I can prove this to you moving forward."
Kirkconnell ends her statement promising to not let her words be empty and to take direct action towards racial justice. "Racial progress and unity are impossible without (white) accountability, and I deserve to be held accountable for my actions," she said. "I will never grow unless I recognize what I have done is wrote. I don’t think one apology means that I deserve your forgiveness, but rather hope that I can earn your forgiveness through my future actions."