Matt James is finally speaking out about the ongoing Bachelor franchise controversy that has taken attention away from his search for true love on Season 25 of The Bachelor.
On Monday, February 22, just prior to a new episode of the show, The Bachelor lead took to Instagram and held little back when addressing some of the headlines-making news within the ABC reality show franchise.
“The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of 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, including the incredibly disappointing photos of Rachael Kirkconnell and the interview between Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison.
Indeed, there’s been a lot to digest over the past few weeks.
“The reality is that I’m learning about these situations in real-time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking, to put it bluntly,” Matt continued.
Earlier this year, old photos of Kirkconnell attending a plantation-themed party emerged on social media.
So did photos of Kirkconnell Liking the Confederate Flag.
Moreover, a former high school classmate of the aspiring wife said Kirkconnell used to give a hard time to white women who dated Black men.
Kirkconnell eventually apologized for her past comments, actions, and behavior, referring to them as “racist and wrong.”
In his own interview on the subject, however, Harrison chose to withhold judgment on Kirkconnell, asking critics for “compassion and grace.”
He received such backlash for the remarks — for essentially siding with the person who committed the wrong, versus those who were wrong — that he issued his own mea culpa.
And then Harrison announced he was stepping aside as host.
This has all happened, it must be noted, during the first-ever season with a Black star in James.
“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,” Matt continued.
“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.”
Added James, who most The Bachelor spoilers have said ends up proposing to Rachael:
“This moment has sparked critical conversations and reporting, raised important questions, and resulted in inspiring displays of solidarity from The Bachelor nation.
“It has also pushed me to reevaluate and process what my experience on The Bachelor represents, 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 concluded by sharing that he will be saying more at a later time, presumably after the current season’s finale.
“I will continue to process this experience, and you will hear more from me in the end,” he said.
“My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better.”
Wrote Kirkconnell back on February 11:
“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 does not excuse anything. They are not acceptable or okay in any sense.
“I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.”
In a rare move, Bachelor contestants from Season 25 even came together to release a statement on this situation a few weeks ago.
“We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism,” the woman wrote.
“Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals.
“These experiences are not to be exploited or tokenized.”