“I know he’s under so much scrutiny. He’s damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t — for both sides,” the 34-year-old Bachelor in Paradise alum exclusively told Us Weekly about the pressure for the 29-year-old lead to end up with a Black woman. “I just hope that whoever he does pick, he’s in love and he runs it and has lots of babies and he’s successful and all the other kind of stuff. But for the most part, he’s going to get hell either way. He’s gonna get heat from all sides.”
James made history in June 2020 when he was named the first Black Bachelor. While he’s down to his final three — Rachael Kirkconnell, Bri Springs and Michelle Young— the upcoming finale has already made headlines after Chris Harrison announced he wouldn’t be hosting. (ABC confirmed last month that Emmanuel Acho was stepping in.) The decision came after the longtime host, 49, came under fire for defending Kirkconnell’s past racially insensitive actions, including attending an “Old South”-themed party on a planation in 2018.
“I’m tired of Black people having to be like, ‘Well, let’s educate [him on] that. It’s tired of educating,’” Jackson told Us. “Especially when the person is older and you’ve lived from this current era.”
Harrison’s controversial remarks about Kirkconnell, 24, went down during an interview on Extra with Rachel Lindsay. While Jackson competed on her season, he told Us that he’s not in touch with the season 13 lead.
“I stand with Rachel. I haven’t spoken to her in years,” Jackson told Us. “I support her 100 percent. Thank you for leading using your platform, your voice. Thank you for not being afraid. Thank you for standing up to racism. … I’ll take all her smoke. Whoever has smoke with her, come holler at me.”
The sales recruiter added that it “sucks” that Lindsay has to go through this hate.
“Trust me, I’ve been there,” he said. “I’ll never be able to fully wrap my mind around racism.”
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“As executive producers of The Bachelor franchise we would like to make it perfectly clear that any harassment directed towards Rachel Lindsay in the aftermath of her interview with Chris Harrison is completely inexcusable,” the showrunners wrote in a statement via the Bachelor Nation Instagram account. “Rachel has received an unimaginable amount of hate and has been subjected to severe online bullying, which, more often than not, has been rooted in racism. That is totally unacceptable.”
With reporting by Diana Cooper