'The Bachelor' Star Rachael Kirkconnell Addresses Racism Controversy in New Video: "I'm Done Hiding"

The Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, who has emerged as a frontrunner on the recent season of the ABC franchise, is continuing to address her problematic recent past in a new video.

Taking to Instagram on Thursday, Kirkconnell, who remains one of the three women competing for the heart of the franchise's first-ever black Bachelor Matt James, addressed what has happened following her original apology statement, in which she admitted she was wrong and her "ignorance was racist" after photos surfaced of her attending an antebellum-themed "Old South" college party in 2018. A viral TikTok also showed Kirkconnell "liking" posts containing the Confederate flag and sharing QAnon conspiracy theories.

"Over the last few weeks, since I've put my statement out, I've gotten a lot of messages. I've gotten a lot of people asking me, 'Well what have you done to change since then?' and I've also had a lot of people message me saying that they aren't understanding why people are so upset. But they want to and they've asked for resources, which I think is great. But then there's also people messaging me saying, 'You've done nothing wrong. Don't listen to people.' And I'm just tired of getting all of this and not saying anything," the 24-year-old graphic designer said in a somber video.

She went on to explain that "the first big step" is "white people stepping up and taking accountability" because "things will never change if we don't all work together in working towards this racial progress and this unity that we want."

In her first apology statement, Kirkconnell stated that she is "learning and will continue to learn how to be antiracist." But since then, she admits, "I've just been hesitant to post links and books and any resources because I don't want people thinking that it's performative or it's not something that I truly stand by.

"I get it. I hear you. There are things out there that completely validate your opinions and your anger towards me. But I've come to realize that sitting aside and hiding in the corner and avoid being called performative, that doesn't help anyone or anything," she said, adding that people's responses are not "what really matters."

"This entire movement and where we are in this country is just so much bigger than this and I want and need to use my privilege and my platform that I so do not deserve just to shine a light on these issues and try to do what I can to take a step in the right direction."

Shortly after Kirkconnell posted her original statement, the cast of season 25 released their own joint statement that denounced any defense of racism. Kirkconnell was also among several of James' contestants who shared the statement, posting it on her Instagram Stories followed by a note stating that her apology is for the people of color that she offended.

Despite facing backlash, Kirkconnell admits that she keeps trying to tell herself that "this entire experience that's going on right now was a blessing in disguise" because "maybe it can wake a lot of people a lot. … Maybe it already has started to. And I think one of the most crucial parts of all of this is to talk to each other and to have these uncomfortable conversations and to learn to unlearn and to do the work. We have so much work to do." She added that she would share antiracism resources that she's used or that have been highly recommended to her.

She then finished her video reiterating that she wants no one defending her or arguing that "there's nothing to be angry about or offended about" by her past actions.

"Please stop. That's not our place to tell people what they can and can't be offended about. That's wrong and that's part of the problem, so please stop saying that I did nothing wrong. That's not true. If you really want to support me, then encourage me to do better and encourage those around you to do better to accept change and allow others to learn and grow, because we need to work together on this if anything is going to change."

Kirkconnell's new video was shared the same week The Bachelor star Matt James broke his silence on Kirkconnell's controversy, as well as the problematic interview between Chris Harrison and franchise alum Rachel Lindsay that resulted in the veteran host taking a hiatus from the show.  

"The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life, and while there are several episodes left of the season, it is important that I take the time to address the troubling information that has come to light since we wrapped filming, including the incredibly disappointing photos of Rachael Kirkconnell and the interview between Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison," wrote James. "The reality is that I'm learning about these situations in real-time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly."

During the recent episode of the ABC series, James met Kirkconnell's family and Kirkconnell continued to express how much she was falling in love with James.

Though host Harrison had confirmed that Kirkconnell was not at the recently taped Women Tell All reunion show, which features memorable contestants who are not finalists and airs ahead of the finale, Kirkconnell stated in her video that everyone "will hear more from me about everything hopefully sooner than later."

The next televised opportunity for her to address the controversy would be at the live "After the Final Rose" finale, for which a host has not been named amid Harrison’s hiatus.

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