The women of Matt James’ Bachelor season are speaking out. Recently, claims of racism have built against current contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, which she finally addressed in a statement on Thursday, Feb. 11. On the same day, other Bachelor Season 25 cast members made a joint statement condemning racism and any attempts to defend it. While members of Bachelor Nation have spoken out about racism before, these statements appear to be part of a larger, long-overdue reckoning within the franchise.
While Kirkconnell has emerged as a frontrunner on James’ season, troubling accusations about her past started popping up on TikTok in January. According to these claims, she bullied a former high school classmate for dating Black men and liked Instagram photos depicting Confederate flags. Then, on Feb. 5, photos surfaced of her attending an "Old South" plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018.
Before Kirkconnell apologized for her past racism on Instagram on Feb. 11, the conversations around her intensified on Tuesday, Feb. 9, when Bachelor host Chris Harrison appeared on Extra and spoke with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay about the claims. While asking viewers to give Kirkconnell "a little grace" considering she had not yet spoken out about the controversy, Harrison dismissed many of Lindsay’s points about racism and angered fans by insisting the plantation party was less of a "bad look" in 2018 and blaming 2021’s "woke police" for the outrage. (Harrison apologized for his comments in an Instagram post on Feb. 10.)
Then, on Feb. 11, the same day Kirkconnell released her apology, many of her Bachelor co-stars released their own statement condemning racism and supporting Lindsay after her Extra interview with Harrison.
Of Matt’s cast, 25 women shared the Instagram statement (as of Feb. 12): Abigail Heringer, Alana Milne, Alicia Holloway, Anna Redman, Bri Springs, Brittany Galvin, Chelsea Vaughn, Corrinne Jones, Illeana Pennetto, Jessenia Cruz, Kaili Anderson, Katie Thurston, Khaylah Epps, Kit Keenan, Kristin Hopkins, Lauren Maddox, Magi Tareke, Marylynn Sienna, MJ Snyder, Pieper James, Sarah Trott, Serena Chow, Serena Pitt, Sydney Johnson, and Victoria Larson.
"We are the women of Bachelor 25," their statement begins. "Twenty-five women who identify as BIPOC were cast on this historic season that was meant to represent change."
The post does not directly name Kirkconnell or Harrison, but makes quite clear it is addressing the controversy surrounding them: "We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism. Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals. These experiences are not to be exploited or tokenized."
The women went on to support Lindsay, referencing Harrison’s insistence on giving Kirkconnell "grace" rather than addressing her past racist actions. "Rachel Lindsay continues to advocate with ‘grace’ for individuals who identify as BIPOC within this franchise. Just because she is speaking the loudest, doesn’t mean she is alone," their statement continued. "We stand with her, we hear her, and we advocate for change alongside her."
Their joint statement has big implications. It’s an unprecedented move for this many Bachelor Nation contestants to speak out on a topic directly affecting the franchise. While it’s unclear how, exactly, the post came about, it appears to be a collaborative effort from all the contestants who shared it. It’s a strong statement that could mark a turning point in how the Bachelor franchise, its representatives, and its contestants handle serious issues.
That it was posted the same evening as Kirkconnell’s apology is also telling. Considering how strict contestants’ ABC contracts reportedly are, it could be an indication the post was given the go-ahead by production. However, it’s also possible the women had strength in numbers and went ahead with posting the statement regardless of what ABC had to say about it; this could be the case since the statement is notably absent from all the official Bachelor Instagram accounts. Elite Daily reached out to ABC about the joint statement but didn’t hear back in time for publication.
Either way, the women of Season 25 certainly aren’t alone in speaking out. Other Bachelor Nation veterans like Mike Johnson, Taylor Nolan, and Becca Kufrin have also shared their support for Lindsay while denouncing Harrison’s actions and the issue of racism within the franchise. There’s no easy way to fix the Bachelor franchise’s problematic elements, but having prominent members of Bachelor Nation use their platforms to speak out looks like a solid start.
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