Rachael Kirkconnell Speaks Out After Photo Controversy

Bachelor frontrunner Rachael Kirkconnell has been caught in the middle of a social media storm over the past few weeks, following the resurfacing of racially insensitive photos from her past. The pics show Kirkconnell with friends dressed in Native American clothing as a costume, as well as attending an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity ball (found on Reddit). Variety notes she was also accused of liking photos featuring the Confederate flag online. Matt James defended Kirkconnell alongside host Chris Harrison, who railed against so-called "cancel culture" during an uncomfortable Extra interview.

Harrison attempted to argue that it was okay for Kirkconnell to attend a plantation-themed party during college in 2018, but not in 2021. He was soon forced to walk back his controversial comments after intense fan backlash. Harrison apologized on social media, noting, "I have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday I took a stance on topics about which I should have been better informed." The Bachelor host also acknowledged he spoke "in a manner that perpetuates racism." Now, Kirkconnell is finally speaking out about the ongoing controversy herself. 

Rachael Kirkconnell apologized profusely for her actions

Just a day after Harrison's apology, the Bachelor contestant, who has yet to be sent home by James, took to Instagram to share a lengthy response of her own. She apologized for not understanding "how offensive and racist" her prior behavior was, noting, "I hear you, and I'm here to say I was wrong." Kirkconnell added, "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." 

Kirkconnell went on to apologize profusely to anybody who was "harmed and offended." She also encouraged those who were confused about the situation to use it as an opportunity to educate themselves about the issues at hand, as she pledged to do. "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," she concluded the post. 

Bachelor contestants were displeased with the defense of Kirkconnell

In a follow-up statement posted to multiple contestants' Instagrams, Kirkconnell's fellow contestants banded together to denounce her behavior, as well as Harrison's. It's worth noting the current season features not just the first Black Bachelor but the most diverse group of contestants ever. Harrison made his initial defense of Kirkconnell in an interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, which understandably stung even more. "Twenty-five women who identify as BIPOC were cast on this historic season that was meant to represent change," the women's statement began.

They went on to explain, "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." The statement pointed out how Lindsay isn't alone though, because "we hear her and we advocate for change alongside her."