The Bachelor‘s Rachael Kirkconnell took to Instagram on Thursday to respond to the “racism” controversy, which included attending an “Old South”-themed party in 2018 dressed up as a Native American. In a video, Kirkconnell, told her fans to “please stop” defending her, adding, “My ignorance was racist.”
“I think that the first big step in all of this is white people stepping up and taking accountability. Things will never change if we don’t all work together in working towards this racial progress and this unity that we want,” Kirkconnell said.
“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 and do what I can to take a step in the right direction.”
Kirkconnell, who is one of the remaining finalists still vying for Matt James’ — the first black bachelor — final rose, went on to speak directly to her followers who have been defending her, asking them to “please stop.”
“If you are in my comments or defending me anywhere, telling people that I did nothing wrong, that there’s nothing to be hurt about, there’s nothing to be angry about or offended about, please stop,” said Kirkconnell. “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.”
In the caption of her post, Kirkconnell said that moving forward, she will utilize her platform “to amplify voices that are extremely knowledgeable” on the subjects of racial and social injustice.
“I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist,” added Kirkconnell in another Instagram post. “I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended. I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me.”
“I am learning and will continue to learn how to be antiracist, because it’s important to speak up in the moment and not after you’re called out,” she added. “If you are a person who doesn’t understand the offense in question, I urge you to learn from my mistakes and encourage you to use them as a teachable moment.”
“I deserve to be held accountable for my actions,” Kirkconnell concluded. “I will never grow unless I recognize what I have done is wrong. I don’t think one apology means that I deserve your forgiveness, but rather I hope I can earn your forgiveness through my future actions.”
James also recently took to Instagram to address the issue, calling the photos of Kirkconnell at the party in 2018 “incredibly disappointing,” adding that Harrison’s “failure” to understand “the emotional labor” his friend took on to explain “the racist history of the Antebellum South” was “troubling and painful to watch.”
“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,” James added. “This moment has sparked critical conversations and reporting, raised important questions, and resulted in inspiring displays of solidarity from The Bachelor nation.”