Emmanuel Acho will make his Bachelor debut hosting Monday’s After the Final Rose.
Opening up about the experience on Good Morning America, the former football player said, “My mission for After the Final Rose is very, very, very simple: allow my white brothers and sisters who have watched the show and fell in love with Matt [James]’s story to understand that Matt’s love story and his journey of love is different than other journeys of love, particularly because of his complexion and his skin color.”
The author of Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man has stepped in to host in Chris Harrison’s stead for the finale of the franchise’s historic season with its first Black Bachelor.
Harrison announced he was “stepping aside for a period of time” after “excusing historic racism” during an Extra interview with Rachel Lindsay. During the interview, he called on embattled contestant Rachael Kirkconnell to receive “grace” amid accusations of racism.
When Lindsay asked the longtime host about photos of Kirkconnell at an antebellum-themed party, he said, “Is it a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference.” She responded, “It’s not a good look ever.”
Acho told T.J. Holmes there is “no difference” in 2020 versus 2018. Instead, “there’s an awareness in 2018, 2017, 2016, 20-as far back as I can go. Celebrating or reenacting, even if it’s just by attire, an antebellum plantation party or an antebellum plantation festivity is wrong.”
Acho Reveals His Reaction to the Backlash Facing Kirkconnell
As Kirkconnell faced backlash for her posts, which included dressing in a Native American costume and liking a photo of friends posing with a Confederate flag, Acho admits his initial reaction was “Yikes,” before thinking “pump the brakes.”
“I believe her photos were racially insensitive and racially ignorant,” revealed the Fox Sports analyst. “Racial insensitivity and racial ignorance can play itself out as racism, but it doesn’t necessarily classify someone as racist.”
While After the Final Rose will be Kirkconnell’s first interview since the controversy, she has issued an apology on Instagram.
It said in part, “At one point, I didn’t recognize how racist and offensive 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.”
Acho Weighs in on Harrison’s Possible Return
It is currently unclear if Harrison will return as host when the upcoming season of The Bachelorette starts filming later this month.
“I’m an imperfect man. I made a mistake. And I own that. I believe that mistake doesn’t reflect who I am or what I stand for,” Harrison told Michael Strahan during his first interview about the controversy on Good Morning America. “I am committed to the progress, not just for myself, also for the franchise.”
When Holmes asked Acho if he thought Harrison should return as host, he questioned, “Is it in the best interest of Chris Harrison? Is it in the best interest of the show for them to continue to mutually move forward?”
He added, “This is the most uncomfortable conversation in the history of The Bachelor franchise because it’s not just about relationships, but now it’s about race.”
The Bachelor finale and After the Final Rose airs Monday on ABC starting at 8 p.m. EST.
READ NEXT: Former Bachelorette Returns to Instagram After Harassment