Matt James, first Black ‘Bachelor,’ says racist controversy surrounding show is ‘devastating’

Matt James, the first Black man to steer ABC’s “The Bachelor” franchise, spoke out Monday concerning the series’ failures on diversity and widespread criticism of host Chris Harrison in recent weeks.

James, who is main the show’s twenty fifth season, stated {that a} latest incident surrounding photographs of a feminine contestant at an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018 and Harrison’s protection of her is a “clear reflection of a much larger issue that that Bachelor franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years.”

In a press release posted on social media, the 29-year-old James stated although there are nonetheless a number of episodes left to air for this season, it was necessary for him deal with the scenario.

“The reality is I’m still learning about these situations in real time and it has been devastating to and heartbreaking, to put it bluntly,” James stated.

The franchise’s present star stated that he hoped that the “inflection point” caused true institutional change for the ABC collection.

“This moment has sparked critical conversation and reporting, raised important questions, and resulted in inspiring displays of solidarity from The Bachelor nation,” James stated. “It has also pushed me to reevaluate and process what my experience on The Bachelor represents, not just for me, but for all the contestants of color, especially the Black contestants of this season, and seasons past, and for you, the viewers at home.”

Photos of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell resurfaced in recent weeks of her at the plantation-themed party in 2018, as well as allegations that she liked photos containing Confederate flags on social media.

Kirkconnell, a Georgia native, has since issued an apology and told “Bachelor” followers that she was ashamed of her lack of schooling and understanding on problems with race.

“At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them,” she said. “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.”

Harrison, who has hosted the show since it began in 2002, defended Kirkconnell in an interview on “Extra” with former “Bachelorette,” Rachel Lindsay, who was the franchise’s first and only Black woman to lead the show. Harrison argued that criticism of Kirkconnell might be unfair, even as Lindsay told him the photos of the party were “not a good look.”

“Well, Rachel is it a good look in 2018? Or, is it not a good look in 2021?” Harrison argued. “Because there’s a giant distinction.”

Many followers have been outraged at Harrison’s response, seemingly excusing racism with criticisms of “cancel culture” despite Lindsay’s makes an attempt to elucidate that antebellum-themed events have been inexcusable in 2018.

Harrison has since issued two apologies and stated he would step down from the show’s reunion, “After the Final Rose.”

In his first acknowledgement of the criticism, Harrison apologized to followers and in addition to Lindsay, for failing to take heed to what she was saying to him. He informed followers he would all the time “own a mistake.”

“What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that, I am deeply sorry,” Harrison initially stated.

The host issued a second assertion three days later as criticism remained and questions arose as as to if he was the very best individual to host the show. Harrison introduced that he wouldn’t be concerned within the filming of the reunion particular.

“The historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions. To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special,” Harrison stated. “I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before.”

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