“Matt and Rachael are no longer together,” an insider exclusively told Life & Style on February 21, one day after he spoke out about her past racist behavior.
“Matt broke up with Rachael mainly due to the backlash. At the end of the day, he cared more about protecting himself, supporting his friend [former Bachelorette] Rachel Lindsay and speaking out against the franchise. Rachael can’t wait until she can finally share her side of the story once the finale airs,” adds the source.
Matt explained more about his decision to end things for good during a sit-down with Rachael on After the Final Rose, hosted by Emmanuel Acho.
“As someone who grew up in the South, it takes me to a place that I don’t often like to thing about. I wasn’t OK,” the leading man explained. “It was in that moment and the conversation that I had, that Rachael might not understand what it means to be Black in America. It’s heartbreaking. If you don’t understand that something like that is problematic in 2018, there’s a lot of me that you won’t understand. It’s as simple as that.”
In his statement about the ordeal on February 22, James, 29, admitted “the past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life.”
The real estate broker added that he felt it was vital to “address the troubling information that has come to light since we wrapped filming, including the incredibly disappointing photos of Rachael Kirkconnell [at an ‘Old South’ plantation party in 2018] and the interview between Rachel Lindsay and [host] Chris Harrison.”
“The reality is that I’m learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly,” James continued in his lengthy statement. “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.”
James noted he was still processing “this experience” with the franchise and will share more of his thoughts when the time is right.
Prior to his statement, Kirkconnell, 24, owned up to her wrongdoing while breaking her silence on the allegations. Just before the plantation party controversy made headlines, claims surfaced online that she once bullied a woman on TikTok for “liking Black men” and “liked” racist photos on Instagram — including a picture of two people standing in front of a Confederate flag.
“I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them,” she wrote in a public apology to her social media followers on February 11. “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.”
“Racial progress and unity are impossible without (white) accountability, and I deserve to be held accountable for my actions,” the ABC alum 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.”