“Bachelor” Season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell apologized Thursday for her past “offensive and racist” behavior, following backlash over her “liking” Confederate flag-related TikTok videos and criticism of a resurfaced photo that appears to show her attending a plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018.
“At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them,” Kirkconnell, a frontrunner on first-ever Black “Bachelor” Matt James’ currently airing season, wrote in a statement posted to Instagram. “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. 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.”
Kirkconnell said that she deserves “to be held accountable” for her actions.
“I will never grow unless I recognize what I have done is wrong,” the “Bachelor” contestant wrote. “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.”
Kirkconnell’s apology for her previous actions came after “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison defended her earlier this week — and then apologized for doing so in a way that “perpetuates racism.”
“To my Bachelor Nation family — I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology,” Harrison wrote in a statement posted to Instagram. “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. While I do not speak for Rachael Kirkconnell, my intentions were simply to ask for grace in offering her an opportunity to speak on her own behalf. What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that I am so deeply sorry.”
James gave his own thoughts on the criticism of Kirkconnell in an interview with Entertainment Tonight in early February, saying, “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.”