“As members of Season 16 of the Bachelorette, it is important that we acknowledge where we stand at this time. We had the opportunity to be a part of one of the most diverse casts in the history of the franchise,” the statement, shared via Instagram, started. “The addition of more people who identify as BIPOC has opened up the conversation on race, community, and who we are as people. A conversation that has been long overdue.”
The season 16 men went on to say, “We stand united in denouncing racist behavior and any defense thereof. We also stand united with the women of Season 25 of the Bachelor, who have denounced the same; moreover, we stand united with Rachel Lindsay, who has let the way.”
“I am beyond greatful [sic] to have Rachel as a mentor during this season. Your advocacy of BIPOC people in the franchise is invaluable, I stand with you and the rest of the women advocating for change and accountability,” he wrote, sharing a post from Lindsay’s own Instagram account.
The controversy began after season 25 competitor Rachael Kirkconnell was accused of past racially insensitive behavior. After the January premiere of The Bachelor, a TikTok user came forward with claims that the reality TV personality bullied her over her attraction to Black men. Kirkconnell was later accused of “liking” racist posts online and posing in controversial costumes. More recently, photos surfaced of her at an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018.
On Tuesday, February 9, Lindsay interviewed host Chris Harrison who seemingly defended Kirkconnell, saying, “we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion.” Lindsay handled the interview with poise and later detailed it during a podcast interview, leading to support from Bachelor Nation.
Kirkconnell issued an apology on Thursday, February 11, though not everyone was quick to accept. She addressed those critics in an Instagram Story.
“My statement and apology is for the people of color that i have offended, if you do not identify as BIPOC then it is not your apology to accept or not. please be respectful to those who have been affected,” she wrote via Instagram.
The Georgia native also reposted a statement from her season 25 The Bachelor costars, which read in part, “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 season 25 castmembers added, “Rachel Lindsay continued 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. We stand with her, we hear her, and we advocate for change alongside her.”
Kirkconnell, for her part, has admitted she “was wrong” and noted, “My ignorance was racist.”