Chris Harrison Stepping Back from ‘The Bachelor’ After Defending Rachael Kirkconnell’s Past Racist Behavior: A Recap of Events So Far

“It’s safe to say I should have kept my big mouth shut.”

Chris Harrison is taking a break from The Bachelor.

Days after he appeared in a disastrous interview with former “Bachelorette” Rachel Lindsay on Extra to discuss past racist actions by current “Bachelor” contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, the host announced on social media that he’s decided to temporarily step back from his duties on the reality show.

“I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused, and I am deeply remorseful,” Chris wrote in a statement posted to his social media accounts. “My ignorance did damage to my friends, colleagues and strangers alike. I have no one to blame but myself for what I said and the way I spoke.”

“I set standards for myself, and have not met them,” he continued. “Now, just as I taught my children to stand up, and to own their actions, I will do the same. By excusing historical racism, I defended it.”

“I invoked the term “woke police,” which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong.

“To the Black community, to the BIPOC community: I am so sorry. My words were harmful. I am listening, and I truly apologize for my ignorance and any pain it caused you. I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the people from these communities who I’ve had enlightening conversations with over the past few days, and I am so grateful to those who have reached out to help me on my path to anti-racism.”

Chris then revealed that he is planning to leave his job as host of the ‘Bachelor’ Franchise until he learns more about why his actions and words were wrong.

“This historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions. To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special. I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before. I want to ensure our cast and crew members, to my friends, colleagues and our fans: this is not just a moment, but a commitment to much greater understanding that I will actively make every day.

“From here I can only try to evolve to be a better man, and I humble myself before all of you. I hope I will again live up to the expectations you all rightfully have for me and the expectations I have for myself.”

In case you missed the interview last week, Chris appeared on Extra to talk about incidences from Rachael Kirkconnell’s past, including pictures of her at an antebellum-themed fraternity party in 2018, and why at that point the ‘Bachelor’ contestant hadn’t addressed the allegations. Chris was quick to rush to Rachael’s defense and brush past criticism from Rachel Lindsay.

“When is the time, and who is Rachel Lindsay and who is Chris Harrison and who is whatever woke police is out there? I hear this all the time… ‘I think he should, I think she should.’ Who the hell are you? Who are you that you demand this?” he said in the interview.

Throughout the interview, Chris asked for grace for Rachael in response to the controversy. On the Higher Learning podcast, which she cohosts with Van Lathan, Rachel shared her reaction to the interview.

“I wanted to react so badly,” she said. “And if you pay attention to that video, I’m moving my hands together, my foot it is moving, because I’m boiling inside. And the things that were boiling to me the most were the compassion and the grace and the space that Chris Harrison wanted to give to Rachael [Kirkconnell] but couldn’t give it to this Rachel in the interview. Couldn’t give it to the people that were offended by the things that she did. Where was the compassion for them?”

On the podcast, which posted Friday, Rachel was asked about her future with ‘The Bachelor’ franchise, which she does have a contractual obligation to.

“I’m f***ing tired,” she said. “I’m exhausted. I have truly had enough. My entire reason for doing ‘The Bachelorette,’ and I was lucky that it worked out for me in the most beautiful way in finding Brian [Abasolo, her husband], is that I wanted to be representative as a Black woman to this audience. And I wanted to pave the way for more people to have this opportunity. In some ways, that has happened. I wanted the franchise to be better.

“I have a love-hate relationship with it,” she added. “I’m connected to it. It did stuff for me. And I’ll never forget that. But I can’t take it anymore. I’m contractually bound in some ways, but when it’s up, I am too. I can’t do it anymore.”

In response, the majority of this season’s contestants posted a message of support for Rachel to their Instagram accounts Friday and, without naming Chris Harrison, shared their frustration about racist acts being defended. 

“We are the women of Bachelor Season 25. Twenty-five women who identify as BIPOC were cast on this historic season that was meant to represent change.

“We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism. Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals. These experiences are not to be exploited or tokenized.

“Rachel Lindsay continues to advocate with ‘grace’ for individuals who identify as BIPOC within this franchise. Just because she is speaking the loudest, doesn’t mean she is alone. We stand with her, we hear her, and we advocate for change alongside her.”

For her part, Rachael Kirkconnell did release her own statement on Instagram earlier today.  

“While there have been rumors circulating, there have also been truths that have come to light that I need to address. I hear you, and I’m 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 does not excuse anything. They are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.

“I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended. 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 offence in question, I urge you to learn from my mistakes and encourage you to use them as a teachable moment.

“As for my family, I love them and how they raised me to be my own individual. They have always encouraged me to have my own views, opinions, and beliefs.

“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; 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.

“Racial progress and unity are impossible without (white) accountability, and I deserve to be held accountable for my actions. I will never grow unless I recognize what I have done is wrong. I don’t think one apology means that I deserve your forgiveness, but rather I hope I can earn your forgiveness through my future actions.”

You can watch the video below to see Chris’ controversial interview with Rachel.

(Photos: ABC; Instagram)

23 Responses

  1. Honestly I don’t think we can live in harmony with each other. Black people are always offended and white people even when they try to apologize get crucified for it and called racist. They should just split the franchise. They can have a white bachelor and bachelorette and a black bachelor and bachelorette. I won’t be watching anymore. Chris was just trying to say let Rachael speak before you judge her and they remove him from a job he has had for 20 years (because lets be honest he didn’t remove himself) for it. There is no Bachelor franchise without Chris.

    1. Jaclyn, taking the time to listen to BIPOC individuals matters. Most of these apologies are rooted in PR versus actually being sorry and wanting to educate themselves and do better. Didn’t the Bachelor put out a statement during BLM addressing the lack of diversity on the show (3 BIPOC leads in 20+ years). Then they hire Matt as the first black bachelor then this behavior from Rachael and Chris Harrison comes out? That isn’t learning and wishing to do better. People do deserve the opportunity to learn but actions don’t seem consistent with the apologies from the franchise. Chris talked over Rachel Lindsay and interrupted her on numerous occasions during the interview.

    2. So true!
      The pendulum has swung in such a way that NOTHING is “right” which by definition makes “everything wrong” said by the “Chris Harrison’s” of the world. Literally EVERYTHING has become “racist” and THAT IS exhausting!!

      Chris never said anything was right or wrong because HE couldn’t speak for Rachel, which somehow made him the bad guy? He agreed that in 2021 the perception is very different than it was years ago, and he’s not wrong…We have been making much needed progress each and every year and should be proud of that! We have more progress to make but “cancellations” like this only force us ALL backwards.
      Why are we so quick to “cancel” someone who has essentially been the respectable foundation of Bachelor Nation and treated EVERYONE with respect, which is exactly why he was able to be open and candid with his FRIEND Rachel, a POC… Ultimately HE gave HER the platform she has. If anything, she took advantage of his trust and seemed to be baiting / egging him on. If she was looking for exposure she sure got it though I’m not sure it will be worth it when all is said and done. She very likely just alienated all future non-POC interviewees.

      I am confident that if contestant Rachel had come out and said racist things that Chris would have stood up against racism, he simply wanted her to have that chance, as we ALL should! If we all keep jumping to conclusions and ASSUMING what is to be read between the lines (which none of us are entitled to), all that ASS-U-ME-ing will intimately make everyone a racist if twisted in a manner things consistently seem to be these days…a manner viewed through the lens of “racist until proven innocent”.

      Without open discussion issues will never be resolved yet the current climate of “if you’re not a POC you’re a racist” essentially shuts down ALL conversations meant to educate and be fair. Before everyone snaps, I do NOT “look like CH”, am just able to see both sides of the current climate and wish we could have open, educational conversations without demolishing an honest mans career that he has frankly excelled at. It’s difficult to find hosts as good as CH and Jeff Probst…yes, both white males but that doesn’t negate their talent! If CH can be chased away, who is next?
      Being Caucasian should not be any more of a crime than being a POC yet the pendulum has now swung in that direction which solves absolutley nothing…

      Finding “racism” in scenarios where race is irrelevant does nothing but stunt BLM (etc) by diluting the TRUE displays of racism (which we all know exist!).
      How does that help anyone??

      This situation is so sad for Chris and society as a whole.
      Who is next??
      Does falsely accusing someone of being “racist” essentially become a “racist” action in its own right?
      Sadly that trend is emerging and we cant afford to reverse the progress we have ALL made!

  2. I still don’t see the racism in what he said…and you can save the “you’re the problem” comments because I’ve heard them all before. It seemed like he was trying to defend her from people crucifying the girl before she had a chance to speak out. Being the host of the show for so long he has seen that happen so many times so it seemed like he wanted to see what she had to say about it before he started judging. Honestly, these are the types of situations that are going to make racism worse. People will be afraid to say anything for fear of losing their jobs and that will start to cause resentment and real racism. I heard him say that he wasn’t defending her actions he just wanted to learn more. Shouldn’t we all want to listen before we react and judge? Where is the grace and kindness here?

    1. That’s the thing. He didn’t want to listen to Rachel Lindsay when she was trying to explain what the problem was. He kept talking over her and cutting her off, also to say it happened so long ago in 2018, like 2018 wasn’t only 2 1/2 years ago. I could see his point if she did it in 2008, but he came out defending her before she even defended herself…and notice she’s not coming to save him like he was so quick to save her lol.

      1. Exactly. He kept interrupting and talking over Rachel Lindsay. That is a huge problem. Chris went on to make an excuse for the racist behavior, saying it happened in 2018. Racism has been going on in America since the beginning. It doesn’t excuse the behavior. Rachael also apparently had her statements rejected by ABC multiple times before chris went on to try to make excuses for the racist behavior and talk over Rachel Lindsay. The fact you’ve been told before you’re part of the problem really signifies to me that you just don’t care or are okay with your ignorance.

        1. Also did you notice how he brushed off Rachel Lindsay’s question when she asked him what her role would have been at that antebellum party? He brushed it off because he knows she would have either been playing a slave, or looked like a fool dressed up as a slave owner. For those who don’t understand why it was bad to dress up like a bunch of slave owners on a plantation, I don’t think have the capability of understanding a conversation about it.

          Also Chris came out out and was trying to defend the party, saying it happened in 2018, when those antebellum parties were BANNED by the fraternity in 2016, but the “kids” decided to throw it anyway, knowing it was wrong. So no one can sit there and say, it’s in the past and she didn’t understand, and she deserves grace. If something is BANNED and you still do it, you know it’s wrong. The fact that people are acting like what he said and defended wasn’t that bad, is bizarre to me.

          Also, its BIPOC she had to apologize to because Rachael was also caught dressed up as a Native American. She didn’t just offend black people, since a few comments in here want to target the black community. And it sounds like the people accepting hers and Chris’ apologies are the main ones that their apologies aren’t even meant for. How are y’all gonna accept an apology that’s not even meant for you?

          1. Oh wow, I didn’t realize she had dressed up as a Native American as well. Facts on the other issues you mentioned in the interview. I don’t find the downvotes baffling on this site due to the insurrection that happened January 6 and the lack of accountability from the Republican Party in the Senate impeachment.

  3. I am not American, so forgive me for asking… What does BIPOC stand for? I am only familiar with PoC.

  4. He defended her harder than she defended herself, and look what happened. I don’t feel bad for him at all. His comments were very problematic. I wish he would be permanently replaced with someone else.

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