If you’ve been following news of Matt James’ season of The Bachelor, then you know that some of the most intense drama has been happening off camera.
As Matt and his remaining contestants enter the homestretch, there are growing concerns about the past behavior of one of the women.
Evidence suggests that frontrunner Rachael Kirkconnell demonstrated racist tendencies in her high school and college years.
The trouble began with claims from a high school classmate who claimed that Kirkconnell mocked and bullied her for dating Black men.
Shortly thereafter, we learned that Kirkconnell attended a plantation-themed frat party in 2018, while she was still in college.
These are deeply disturbing revelations, and many are upset by the fact that Rachael has yet to respond to them publicly.
So it’s possible that Chris Harrison thought he was making the situation better by responding on Rachael’s behalf.
Instead, he made things much worse — at least for himself.
Harrison sat down for an interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay this week, and rather than listening to and learning from a Black woman’s perspective on the situation, he launched into a misguided defense of Kirkconnell.
“I saw something that said this person is a registered Republican, therefore they are this … We have to be so careful when we start labeling people,” Harrison said.
“Where is the narrative of her falling in love with Matt? When you are trying to react to something on social media, there is no grace … I’m just going to give her the grace and the time to actually come out and speak," he continued.
“We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion, Chris added.
"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."
Rather than demanding that Rachael address this situation, Chris bafflingly took her silence as evidence of her innocence.
"I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet," he said.
"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 pointed out that it’s “not a good look,” Harrison asked, “Is it [not] a good look in 2018 or is it not a good look in 2021?”
Yes, it looks like Chris is one of those rich white guys who thinks that awareness of racism was invented during the BLM protests last summer.
Lindsay replied that "it’s not a good look ever," and she proceeded to explain exactly why.
"Because she’s celebrating the Old South," she said. "If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?"
"First and foremost, I don’t know," Harrison replied.
"I haven’t talked to Rachael about it. And this is, again, where we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion," he added.
"Because I’ve seen some stuff online—again this judge-jury-executioner thing—where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into, like, her parents and her parents’ voting record. It’s unbelievably alarming to watch this."
Yes, it looks as though Chris doesn’t see a problem with the fact that Rachael hasn’t spoken out on the matter yet.
In fact, he seems to believe that it’s everyone else who should remain silent on the issue:
"The woke police is out there," he later added.
"And this poor girl Rachael, who has just been thrown to the lions, I don’t know how you are equipped when you have never done this before, to be woke enough, to be eloquent enough, to be ready to handle this."
Not surprisingly, the reaction to Harrison’s comments was overwhelmingly negative, and he quickly took to Instagram to issue an apology:
‘"Bachelor Nation family — I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology,” he wrote on 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," he added.
"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.”
Among those who are aware of how this season reportedly ends (and yes, we’ll be discussing that ending in the remainder of this article, so consider this your official SPOILER ALERT), important questions have arisen.
Primarily, fans are wondering if Harrison would have stuck his neck out like this for any random contestant.
Rumor has it that Kirkconnell is the recipient of Matt’s final rose.
That means fans will judge this season largely on whether or not they like her.
Right now it’s not looking so good — and Chris knows what that might mean for the future of the franchise.
But what would be even worse is if the franchise ignored the concerns of its viewers and continued in its efforts to sweep this story under the rug.