‘Bachelor’ producers condemn ‘unimaginable amount of hate’ toward Rachel Lindsay
Executive producers of the TV franchise “The Bachelor” released a statement Monday night condemning racist online attacks aimed at Rachel Lindsay after the former “Bachelorette” held longtime “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison accountable.
Their message comes weeks after Harrison announced he would be “stepping aside” indefinitely from his emcee duties following an “Extra” interview with Lindsay in which he defended past racist actions of current contestant Rachael Kirkconnell.
When asked by Lindsay to address Kirkconnell’s past behavior — which included attending an antebellum-themed fraternity party in 2018 — Harrison suggested that participating in an event glorifying a period marked by racism and slavery had only recently been considered wrong and that Kirkconnell did not deserve the backlash.
“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,” Monday’s statement read.“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. Rachel has been an incredible advocate for our cast, and we are grateful that she has worked tirelessly toward racial equity and inclusion.”
The showrunners published their address as the “Women Tell All” episode of the “Bachelor” series’ 25th season, starring Matt James, aired on ABC. James, the franchise’s first Black “Bachelor,” has also spoken out in support of Lindsay while denouncing Harrison’s conduct.
“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 intimately, was troubling and painful to watch,” James wrote last month in a statement.
Last week, Lindsay deleted her Instagram account amid an onslaught of abuse following Harrison’s departure from the show. In February, Harrison apologized for his “harmful” comments regarding Kirkconnell.“I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology,” Harrison said. “I have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday I took a stance on topics about which I should have been better informed.”Kirkconnell — who, like Harrison, is white — also issued an apology, stating, “I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them … I was ignorant but my ignorance was racist.”
Lindsay, who made history as the first Black “Bachelorette,” was not satisfied with Harrison’s response to the controversy and was among multiple former contestants of color who deemed his apology insincere.
Though Lindsay has remained involved in the ABC franchise thus far through her “Bachelor”-themed podcast and TV appearances, she has said publicly that she is strongly considering leaving the brand once her contract expires because of recent events.“I’m exhausted,” she said last month on her “Higher Learning” podcast. “I have truly had enough. … I wanted to be representative as a Black woman to this audience… I wanted the franchise to be better … But how much more can I take of things like this?”
Amid Harrison’s suspension, the upcoming “The Bachelor: After the Final Rose” special will be hosted by Emmanuel Acho, the bestselling author of “Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man.” The telecast — featuring Acho, James, Kirkconnell and two additional finalists — premieres March 15 on ABC.
“It’s been a pivotal season, and this episode will hopefully be one of the most storied shows in TV history,” Acho wrote upon his casting announcement. “Empathy is needed and change is coming.”