Chris Harrison spoke about accusations of racist behavior levied against The Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, but his argument in her defense has led to heaps of criticism. Harrison apologized for his comments, but that didn’t stop many of the biggest stars in Bachelor Nation from ripping into the show’s longtime host.
Harrison, 49, told Rachel Lindsay of Extra in an interview that fans should give Kirkconnell “a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion.” But he infuriated many when he suggested that the Old South plantation-themed ball Kirkconnell attended is only considered racist by 2021 standards.
“Is it a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference,” Harrison asked Lindsay, who replied “It’s not a good look ever.”
“That was not the case in 2018,” Harrison said. “I’m not defending Rachael, I just know that, I don’t know, 50 million people did that in 2018. That was a type of party that a lot of people went too. … Where is this lens we’re holding up and was this lens available, and were we all looking through it in 2018?”
Considering there are roughly 20 million college students in the entire United States, it’s safe to assume Harrison’s estimation that 50 million people attended such a party is false. As was his claim that the party — which was in 2018 — happened five years ago.
The Current Cast of ‘The Bachelor’ Released Joint Statements
About two days after the interview was released, and one day after Harrison issued his apology, Kirkconnell finally posted a statement of her own. She called her actions “ignorant,” “racist,” and “offensive.”
Later in the same evening, at least 20 women on the cast of season 25 of The Bachelor — including even Kirkconnell — posted an identical statement on Instagram (some posted in their stories).
“We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism,” the statement reads, in part. “Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) individuals. These experiences are not to be exploited or tokenized.”
Some of the contestants made other statements prior to the joint release. Jessenia Cruz shared resources on her Instagram to combat racism, Katie Thurston wrote in her Instagram story that it was “disappointing” and shared a video explaining the problematic nature of Harrison’s comments, and Khaylah Epps wrote on Twitter that Harrison excusing racism is “inexcusable and a direct slap in the face.”
Former Bachelor Contestants Chimed in Too
Many former stars of the Bachelor franchise shared their thoughts on social media, and especially alumni who are people of color.
While former The Bachelorette contestant Mike Johnson didn’t address Harrison specifically, he wrote in an Instagram caption “Call it ‘woke police’ or call it accountability. The choice is yours.” That appears to be a direct jab at Harrison who repeatedly used the word “woke” to minimize the backlash directed at Kirkconnell.
Diggy Moreland, who appeared on season 13 of The Bachelorette and two seasons of Bachelor in Paradise, had a lot to say on Twitter:
Those who released statements or spoke out against Harrison’s comments include Kaitlyn Bristowe, Becca Kufrin, Nick Viall, and Ben Higgins, and many others.