The Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell broke her silence on a number of allegations made against her for past racist behavior.

“While there have been rumors circulation, 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,” the Cumming, Georgia, native wrote in her apology on Thursday, 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 OK in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.”

Rachael Kirkconnell Statement
Courtesy Rachael Kirkconnell/Instagram

“I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended,” she continued. “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.”

Rachael then expressed how much she loves her family and how they raised her to be an individual. “They have always encouraged me to have my own views, opinions, and beliefs,” she added. “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 their actions 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,” the reality star concluded. “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.”

The controversy started when Matt James‘ season of The Bachelor premiered on January 4, and a woman on TikTok claimed Rachael, 24, bullied her in high school for dating Black men. Later, on January 26, another woman on TikTok alleged Rachael “liked” a number of racist posts on Instagram, including a photo of two people posing in front of a Confederate flag and a group of white women dressed as Mexican men.

After both TikTok posts went viral, Matt, 29, addressed the backlash. “I have not spoken to anybody since the show ended, but I would say that you have to be really careful about what you are doing on social media,” he told Entertainment Tonight on February 2. “Rumors are dark and nasty and can ruin people’s lives. So, I would give people the benefit of the doubt, and hopefully she will have her time to speak on that.”

RACHAEL Matt James' Bachelor Contestants Instagram
ABC/Craig Sjodin

Less than a week later, images of Rachael attending an “Old South” plantation party at Georgia College & State University in 2018 surfaced. All of the women in attendance were dressed in Antebellum-style gowns.

“This party is not racially motivated, but the core of the formal is what’s wrong and undeniable,” Rachael’s cousin Anastasia told The Sun. “She did not have racist intent, but she really messed up on this one. I don’t believe she is racist even after this coming to light. But I think it’s going to be harder to defend this one.”

*Warning: spoilers ahead.* According to Reality Steve, Rachael goes on to win Matt’s season of The Bachelor after ending up in the final two with contestant Michelle Young. While the popular blogger is unsure whether or not they get engaged, he did report they are still together today.