Not up to date on the Rachael Bachelor racism drama? Let us fill you in. Rachael—a 24-year-old graphic designer from Cumming, Georgia, and a contestant on season 25 of The Bachelor with Matt James—is under fire for past behavior that led fans to believe that she’s a racist.
Rachael is one of 32 women who met Matt, a 29-year-old real estate agent from Raleigh, North Carolina, on the premiere of The Bachelor season 25 in January 2021. Matt is also the first Black Bachelor in the Bachelor franchise’s 15-plus-year history. Overall, he’s the third Black lead after season 13 Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay and season 16 Bachelorette Tayshia Adams.”It’s an honor,” Matt told Good Morning America in June 2020 after he was announced as the season 25 Bachelor. “I’m just going to lean into myself and how my mom raised me and hopefully when people invite me into their homes on Monday night they’re going to see that I’m not much different from them and they see that diverse love stories are beautiful.”
There’s no doubt that Matt’s Bachelor season is historic, which makes Rachael’s Bachelor racism drama that much more infuriating given who may be her future husband. Reality Steve also confirmed in March 2021 that Rachael will discuss her scandal during the “After the Final Rose” special. Ahead is what we know about Rachael’s Bachelor racism controversy and what stars like Matt and Chris Harrison think about it.
Why do fans think Rachael from The Bachelor is racist?
After The Bachelor season 25 premiere, TikTok user @maddyybierster, a former high school classmate of Rachael’s, posted a video in which she claimed that Rachael bullied her for dating Black men. “girlieee, remember when you bullied me in high school for liking black guys???” Maddy wrote alongside a video of Rachael and Matt. After the video went viral, Maddy shared another video of screenshots of DMs from other women who had similar experiences with Rachael when it came to dating Black men.
The scandal continued when TikTok user @feministmama posted her own video, in which she exposed Rachael for liking racist social media posts and associating herself with controversial groups.The user shared three social media screenshots that Rachael liked: one of two women in front of a Confederate flag, one of three women dressed in sombreros, ponchos and mustaches, and one of a woman in a “Make America Great Again” hat. The user also claimed that Rachael hasn’t voted in the past four general elections, sharing a screenshot of her voting history. @Feministmama also shared screenshots of Rachael‘s parents supporting Donald Trump and other Republican politicians. According to the screenshots, her father donated to WinRed, a fundraising platform that supported Trump in the 2020 Presidential Election.
@maddyybiersterBECAUSE I REMEMBER ##BACHELO ##bachelornationabc ##BachelorReady ##bachelor ##bachelorgr ##mattjames ##fyp♬ Laughing Hard – Tik Tok
@maddyybiersterplease read each and every one 🙂 #bachelornationabc #BachelorReady #bachelor #fyp #IsThisAvailable♬ Bruh – Bruv.
@feministmamaReply to @lovelams ##thebachelor♬ Quirky – Oleg Kirilkov
Rachael’s old south antebellum party picture
In February 2021, Rachael went viral again after a 2018 photo resurfaced of her at an old south Antebellum-themed party at the University of Georgia. According to The Sun, the party was described as an “Antebellum plantation-themed ball” by Kappa Alpha, a fraternity that has been criticized as racist due to its support of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as a “spiritual leader.” The party was held during the university’s “Old South Week,” which was an event previously held on plantations and used Confederate flags for decoration. The photos showed Rachael and her friends in Antebellum-style dresses as they posed for a group photo. The Sun reported that men who attend “Old South” parties often wear costumes similar to Confederate soldiers and plantation owners. (See the photos here.)
After Rachael came under fire for her attendance at an Antebellum-themed party, Chris Harrison defended her in an interview with Rachel Lindsay (the first Black lead in the Bachelor franchise) on Extra. “We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion,” he said at the time. “Because I have seen some stuff online—this judge, jury, executioner thing where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into, like, her parents, her parents’ voting record…I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet. Until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this? I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago and that’s it.”
when Lindsay noted that the picture was “not a good look,” Harrison asked, “Is it [not] a good look in 2018 or is it not a good look in 2021?” which led Lindsay to respond that Rachael’s photos weren’t a good look ever.
Weeks after her past social media posts went viral, Rachael broke her silence in an Instagram post in February 2021. “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,” she wrote. “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.”
She continued, “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 offense in question, I urge you to learn from my mistakes and encourage you to use them as a teachable moment.”
Rachael went on to suggest that she doesn’t share the same political views as her family. “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,” she wrote. “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.”
She ended her statement: “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.”
In her caption, Rachael noted that her apology wasn’t meant for white people. “my statement and apology is for the people of color that i have offended, if you do not identify as BIPOC then it is not your apology to accept or not. please be respectful to those who have been affected,” she wrote.
Rachael’s mom’s response
In an interview with The Sun in February 2021, Rachael’s mom, Kim Kirkconnell, opened up about the effect the controversy has had on her daughter. “No one should have to go through what she has been through,” Kim said. “We have seen the devastation and heartbreak this has caused for Rachael…Rachael has felt hopeless and frustrated about not being able to address the issue and speak her side.”
Rachael’s mom went on to tell The Sun that she thinks the situation has “gotten even more out of hand” and that Rachael is “suffering the consequences” since she can’t speak out about the show. Kim went on to say that it’s been “demoralizing and depressing” watching Rachael’s controversy.
Kim also told The Sun that Rachael’s family is “considering taking legal action” against the TikTok user who first accused Rachael of bullying her for dating Black men. As for the now-infamous sorority photos, Kim said that Rachael dropped out of her sorority that year because she “did not share their views and beliefs and did not want to be a part of it anymore.”
Chris Harrison steps down as The Bachelor host
Less than a week after his apology, Harrison took to his Instagram in February 2021 to announce that he was temporarily “stepping aside” as the Bachelor franchise’s host. He also confirmed that he won’t be hosting Matt’s “After the Final Rose” special.
“The 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,” he wrote in an Instagram post. “I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before.”
He continued, “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.”
Matt James’ response
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight in February 2021, Matt was asked about Rachael’s past social media behavior. He denied that Rachael’s social media posts were reflective of who she is. “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 said. “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.”
He continued, “There’s a lot of stuff going around about the women that were involved in the show. I would just give them a chance to kind of have their piece, whether that is someone who was gone night one or someone who went home last night. Everyone has a story, and I would just be receptive to that.”
After Rachael and Chris Harrison’s apology, Matt took to his Instagram in February 2021 to thank Rachel Lindsay for the holding the Bachelor franchise accountable. “I am beyond grateful to have Rachel as a mentor during this season,” he wrote on his Instagram Stories. “Your advocacy of BIPOC people in the franchise is invaluable, I stand with you and the rest of the women advocating for change and accountability.”
Matt officially released his statement on Rachael’s racism controversy in an Instagram post in February 2021. “The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life, and while there are several episodes left of the season,” he wrote. “It is important that I take the time to address the 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 reality is that I’m learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly,” he continued. “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.” For spoilers about Matt’s Bachelor winner, click here.
Rachael’s response to her fans attacking Matt with racist insults
The Bachelor season 25 finale in March 2021 saw Rachael win Matt’s season. At the “After the Final Rose” ceremony, Matt revealed that he and Rachael had split due to her racism scandal. The episode led some of Rachael’s followers to attack Matt with “racist insults,” which Rachael defended him from in an Instagram Story.
“I am taken aback by what I’ve seen tonight. If you think that attacking a person I care about with racist insults is what I would ever want, you haven’t been listening,” she wrote. “Some of the things I’ve seen being said to and about Matt are repulsive.”
She continued, “I respect the decisions that Matt has had to make during this experience. If you are directing hate towards him, please stop. Recognize someone’s humanity and think about the impact your words have.”
Matt’s contestants’ response
After Harrison’s interview with Rachel Lindsay, many contestants from Matt’s Bachelor season took to their Instagram with a statement denouncing Rachael’s racism. “We are the women of Bachelor Season 25,” the shared statement read. “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.”
The statement continued, “Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals. These experiences are not to be exploited or tokenized.”
The group ended their statement by praising Lindsay for how she handled her interview: “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.”
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