“I just wanted to come on here and say a few things. You will hear more from me about everything. Hopefully sooner than later, but I really just wanted to say that … over the last few weeks, since I’ve put my statement out, I’ve got a lot of messages,” the ABC alum, 24, said in a video posted via Instagram on Thursday, February 25, noting many people have asked what changes she will be making.
Kirkconnell said that although some fans are defending her, she wanted to grow from the experience and strive to do better. “Things will never change if we don’t all work together,” she said about the importance of racial unity, adding, “I’ve just been hesitant to post links and books and any resources because I don’t want people thinking that it’s performative or that it’s not something that I don’t truly stand by. I get it. I hear you. There are things out there that completely validate your opinions and your anger toward me, but I’ve just come to realize that sitting aside and hiding in the corner … that doesn’t help anyone or anything.”
The controversy began when Matt James’ premiere episode of The Bachelor aired on January 4, and a woman on TikTok alleged Kirkconnell bullied her in high school for dating Black men. On January 26, another woman on TikTok claimed Rachael “liked” some racist posts on Instagram. Days later, throwback images of the reality star at an “Old South” plantation party at Georgia College & State University in 2018 made their rounds on the internet, leading Kirkconnell to publicly apologize.
Kirkconnell apologized again in her new video and thanked fans for holding her accountable. The graphic designer said that while her latest remarks may not change the negative views people have about her, she is hopeful to earn “your forgiveness and your grace through my future actions.” Kirkconnell concluded, “I am done waiting around for the time to speak” and “done hiding.”
“Moving forward, I will utilize my platform to amplify voices that are extremely knowledgeable in these subjects,” she added in her Instagram caption.
It appears the franchise will also be preparing for a change after longtime host Chris Harrison came to her defense. The TV star has since announced he will be “stepping aside [from his role] for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special” following his controversial statements on the matter.
On February 22, James, 29, broke his silence in a lengthy statement on Instagram. “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 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,” the season 25 leading man 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.”
“This moment has sparked critical conversations and reporting, raised important questions, and resulted in inspiring displays of solidarity from The Bachelor Nation,” the North Carolina native continued. “I will continue to process this experience, and you will hear more from me in the end. My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better.”