“The Bachelor” contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, who is one of three women still vying for the heart of first Black Bachelor Matt James, is addressing her racist past in a new video. Kirkconnell has been surrounded by controversy for weeks after host Chris Harrison was forced to temporarily withdraw from the franchise for defending Kirkconnell’s offensive photos.
In an Instagram video Thursday, Kirkconnell responds to the controversy, which includes photos of her attending a prewar-themed college party in 2018, and allegedly liking and sharing social media posts with the Confederate flag and the conspiracies of Qanon. He had previously released a written statement earlier this month.
At the beginning of the seven-and-a-half minute video, Kirkconnell said, “The first big step in all of this is for whites to step up and take responsibility. Things will never change if we don’t all work together to work toward this racial progress and this unit we want. “
The 24-year-old said she has not posted anti-racism links or resources in the past because she didn’t want it to sound “performative.” However, she says she has come to realize that people’s opinions of her are not “what really matters.”
“All this movement and where we are in this country, is much bigger than this, and I want and need to use my privilege and my platform that I do not deserve just to shed light on these issues and try to do what I can to take a step in the right direction “.
Kirkconnell said she’s telling herself that “this whole experience, with what’s going on right now, it was a blessing in disguise because maybe it can wake up a lot of people.”
Kirkconnell continued to emphasize the importance of having awkward conversations and striving to “unlearn” racism.
“The learning never stops. We must all continue to educate ourselves,” he said, pointing out anti-racism resources to viewers in his Instagram story and bio. She included articles titled, “How I Confronted the Truth About My Frat’s Racist History” and “Why Your Native-Inspired Halloween Costume Devalues Our Indigenous Cultures.”
Kirkconnell concluded the video by telling his followers that they should not defend or excuse his past behavior.
“Please stop. That is not our place to tell people what they can and cannot take offense,” he said. “That is wrong and part of the problem, so stop saying I did nothing wrong. That is not true. If you really want to support me, encourage me to do better and encourage those around you to do better to accept change and allow let others learn and grow because we have to work together on this if something is going to change. “
“I’m very sorry,” he concluded. “I only hope that I can earn your forgiveness and grace through my future actions.”
Harrison, who has hosted The Bachelor since 2002, announced earlier this month that he will be leaving the show for a “period of time.” Her announcement came after a controversial “Extra” interview with top Black Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, in which she defended Kirkconnell after being accused of racist acts.
During the most recent episode of the show, James met Kirkconnell’s family and she reiterated that she was falling in love with him.
Earlier this week, James said in a statement It has been “devastating and heartbreaking” to learn of Kirkconnell’s “incredibly disappointing” photos and subsequent comments made by Harrison.
“Chris’s inability to receive and understand the emotional work that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on in kindly and patiently explaining the racist history of Antebellum South, a painful story that every American should understand intimately, was disturbing and painful to watch.”