Here's Everything We Know About Chris Harrison and The Bachelor Racism Controversy

If you're not familiar with why fans have been in an uproar over comments made by longtime Bachelor franchise host Chris Harrison, we've got you covered. On Feb. 9, Harrison joined former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay on Extra to discuss the recent controversy surrounding current Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell's social media activity. Fans were quick to point out that the 15-minute interview sees Harrison seemingly dismissing Lindsay's concerns while defending Kirkconnell. This criticism led to a petition from fans for the host's removal from the franchise before he temporarily stepped down as host. Ahead, we've broken down the controversy, including everything from Kirkconnell's social media activity and the Extra interview to Lindsay, Kirkconnell, Harrison, and Matt James's responses.

Why Fans Are Upset With Rachael Kirkconnell

Controversy surrounding Kirkconnell first started in January after a Reddit user uploaded a picture of The Bachelor contestant wearing Native American attire as a costume. More recently, pictures of Kirkconnell allegedly attending an antebellum plantation themed formal for the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity in 2018 resurfaced. In the pictures, she can be seen wearing an antebellum-style gown, perpetuating the "Old South" image. She has also been accused on TikTok of racist behavior, including bullying an alleged high school classmate for "liking Black guys" and liking photos containing the Confederate flag. ABC had no comment when reached out to by People on Feb. 10.

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Chris Harrison and Rachel Lindsay Talk Bachelor Contestant Rachael Kirkconnell

On Feb. 9, Chris Harrison and Rachel Lindsay discussed the controversy surrounding Kirkconnell. In the interview, Harrison kept speaking over Lindsay while admitting he wasn't completely informed about the situation and that he hadn't spoken to Kirkconnell. Lindsay went on to say that Harrison's line of thinking is part of the problem and that "we weren't looking through those lens and we should have been. And just because it was a popular party, you know, doesn't necessarily make it right." She also added that she found the situation with Kirkconnell frustrating because "she hasn't spoken out" and "there's nothing that contractually stops her from" addressing the photos.

Harrison also asked that "we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion" when it comes to Kirkconnell, because we haven't heard her speak yet. Fans have criticized the interview, saying that Harrison's commentary is essentially defending racist behavior.

Chris Harrison Apologizes For Statements Made on Extra

After receiving backlash for his Extra appearance, Harrison posted an apology statement on Instagram. Not only did he admit to "wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism," he offered up an apology to Lindsay for not listening when she tried to speak on the topic. He also thanked fans of The Bachelor and its franchises for holding him accountable and promised to do better in the future.

Rachel Lindsay Responds to Chris Harrison Controversy

Lindsay replied to a Twitter thread by HuffPost senior reporter Emma Gray calling out Harrison on Feb. 10, saying, "My days are numbered." She then posted a picture of herself meditating on Instagram Feb. 11, with the caption: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference 🖤"

During the Feb. 12 episode of Van Lathan's Higher Learning podcast, Lindsay spoke at length about the Extra interview with Harrison. She also revealed that she will not be renewing her contract with The Bachelor franchise when it is up. "I'm f*cking tired. I'm exhausted. I have truly had enough," Lindsay can be heard saying on the podcast. "My entire reason for doing The Bachelorette . . . is that I wanted to be representative as a Black woman to this audience. And I wanted to pave the way for more people to have this opportunity. In some ways that has happened. I wanted the franchise to be better."

In response to the Extra interview, she had this to say, "They hired a diversity consultant — who didn't attend the class? Did Chris Harrison not sit through that? I'm confused as to how you could have whole consultants working for you, yet what happened just happened."

Rachael Kirkconnell Responds to the Allegations

On Feb. 11, Kirkconnell addressed the controversy in an Instagram post. In the post, she admitted that her previous actions "are not acceptable or OK in any sense" and that she "didn't recognize how offensive and racist my actions were." She went on to apologize to "the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended," saying that she was ashamed of her lack of education, but it wasn't other people's job to educate her.

Kirkconnell finished the post by saying that she deserves to be held accountable for her actions and that she doesn't think that her apology will necessarily earn everyone's forgiveness.

Women of The Bachelor Season 25 Respond

On Feb. 11, contestants from Matt James's season of The Bachelor shared a message on Instagram. In the post they denounced "any defense of racism," saying that, "any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals. These experiences are not to be exploited or tokenized." The post also went on to commend Rachel Lindsay for the way she's continuously handled similar situations and that, "we stand with her, we hear her, and we advocate for change alongside her."

Chelsea Vaughn, Rachael Kirkconnell, Abigail Heringer, Bri Springs, Jessenia Cruz, Kit Keenan, Michelle Young, Pieper James, Serena Chew, Serena Pitt, Kaite Thurston, Brittany Galvin, Magi Tareke, Ryan Claytor, MJ Snyder, Lauren Maddox, Mari Pepin, Victoria Larson, Anna Redman, Kaili Anderson, Khaylah Epps, Sarah Trott, Alana Milne, Illeana Pennetto, Kristin Hopkins, Marylynn Sienna, Sydney Johnson, Alicia Holloway, Carolyn Vallejo, Casandra Suarez, Corrinne Jones, Emani Curl, Kimberly Courneya and Saneh St. Clare all posted the message. Rachel Lindsay also included the post on her Instagram story, saying, "This is everything. This truly move me. Thank you ladies."

Members of Season 16 of The Bachelorette Respond

On Feb. 12, contestants from Clare Crawley/Tayshia Adams's season of The Bachelorette shared a message on Instagram following the lead from the current Bachelor cast. In their post, they detailed how they were "part of one of the most diverse casts in the history of the franchise" and that a conversation on race "has been long overdue." They then finished off the post by saying, "We stand united in denouncing racist behavior and any defense thereof. We also stand united with the women on Season 25 of The Bachelor, who have denounced the same; moreover, we stand united with Rachel Lindsay, who has led the way."

Demar Jackson, AJ Yalowan, Ben Smith, Bennett Jordan, Blake Moynes, Brendan Morais, Chasen Nick, Ed Waisbrot, Garin Flowers, Ivan Hall, Jay Smith, Jordan Chapman, Kenny Braasch, Mike Tobin, Page Pressley, Riley Christian, and Zachary Johnson have all shared the post on Instagram.

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Rachel Lindsay Reacts to Chris Harrison Stepping Aside

On Feb. 15, Rachel Lindsay spoke with Billy Bush on Extra about her Chris Harrison interview, saying she was "stunned" not at what was said but "the fact he was saying it in public." She also told Bush she felt it was her duty to say something because when people think of racism, it's often explicit racism. "Then there's implicit racism, where you have these unconscious biases and stereotypes and misconceptions of certain groups," she added. "And that's what we were seeing in that interview, and I think it was a moment for people to recognize what was being said and to learn and grow from it, which is what we're seeing happen now with Chris."

Lindsay also stated that she welcomes the fact that Harrison is stepping aside from The Bachelor franchise. "Like he said, he needs to take time to get educated and on a profound and productive level, to use his word. And I think he needs to understand what was done, what was wrong, and what he said in that interview, and he needs time. He's stepped away to do that."

When it comes to whether or not she'll accept Harrison's apology, she had this to say: "I'm going to need that time and space and compassion that he referenced to really accept the apology, because [Chris wasn't] apologetic at first. I'm not saying I can't get there, it's just, initially, it's a little tough for me."

Matt James Reacts to The Bachelor Racism Controversy

On Feb. 22, the Bachelor posted on both Twitter and Instagram to release a lengthy statement condemning Harrison's troubling comments, admitting they've been "devastating and heartbreaking" to hear. "Chris's failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explaining the racist history of the Antebellum South, a painful history that every American should understand immediately, was troubling and painful to watch," he wrote. "As Black people and allies immediately knew and understood, it was a clear reflection of a much larger issue that The Bachelor franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years."

He went on to talk about how the controversy has sparked necessary conversations within Bachelor Nation before assuring fans that they will hear more from him in the future. "My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better," he finished.