Chris Harrison has announced that he will abstain from his host position on The Bachelor for an indefinite amount of time. This follows the controversial past of season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconell resurfacing. The franchise has been on since 2002 and did not have a person of color as the main subject until 2017. Rachel Lindsay, who was the first Black female lead on season 13 of The Bachelorette, spoke in her podcast about her disappointment in the show.
Compromising images of Contestant Rachael Kirkconell attending an old south-plantation themed fraternity party in 2018 have spread online. Kirckonell was a member of the sorority Alpha Delta Pi at Georgia College & State University and graduated in 2019. The “plantation-themed ball” was held by the fraternity Kappa Alpha Order, which has a longstanding history of racism nationally. The party was during “Old South Week”, a questionable tradition at the university. Rachael has been called out online for posing in front of Confederate flags, bullying classmates for their attraction to black men, and “liking” controversial posts on social media.
Harrison’s departure follows another recent Bachelor racism scandal, as season 23 contestant Hannah Brown sang along to a racial slur in an Instagram video.
Rachel Lindsay spoke on a video call to Bachelor host Chris Harrison on the entertainment show Extra. He spoke over her, minimized the scenario, and gave Kirkconell the benefit of the doubt. Harrison also referred to Kirkconell as “a poor girl”, and called critics the “woke police” numerous times. He related this scandal to Confederate monuments being taken down and San Francisco schools being renamed.
“When is the time, and who is Rachel Lindsay, and who is Chris Harrison and who is whatever woke police is out there?” Harrison asked on Extra. “Who the hell are you? Who are you that you demand this?”
The next day Harrison tweeted an apology for his disrespectful conversation with Lindsay. Kirkconell made a text post apology on Instagram, which was received with mixed feedback. Lindsay spoke on her podcast about how the show has tried to make progress, such as hiring a diversity consultant.
Ultimately, however, Harrison’s behavior proved it is not enough. Lindsay no longer wants to be affiliated with the The Bachelor show, and is anxious for her contract to end. She intends to fully quit once her legal obligations are over.
Harrison has backed away from his hosting position indefinitely. During Rachel Lindsay’s season, 12% of the audience identified as Black. It is unclear how the show will continue after this scandal, and what can be done to change the reputation of Harrison and the franchise.