Rachael Kirkconnell is finally addressing her past. The current Bachelor contestant has emerged as a frontrunner on Matt James' historic season, but online, claims of racism have steadily built up against her. She finally spoke up about the controversy on Thursday, Feb. 11, by issuing a statement. In Rachel Kirkconnell's Instagram apology, she owns up to her racist actions and promises change.
At the beginning of The Bachelor Season 25, allegations about the Georgia native's past started popping up on TikTok, with people claiming she bullied a former high school classmate for dating Black men and liked Instagram photos containing Confederate flags. On Feb. 5, photos surfaced of Kirkconnell attending an "Old South" plantation-themed fraternity party in 2018.
Bachelor fans have been waiting for Kirkconnell to address these claims, with many speculating whether her contract with ABC kept her from speaking about them. The controversy around her intensified on Tuesday, Feb. 9, when Bachelor host Chris Harrison appeared on Extra and spoke to Bachelor Nation's Rachel Lindsay about the claims. In defending Kirkconnell, Harrison repeatedly dismissed Lindsay's comments about racism and enraged many fans by claiming the plantation party was less of a "bad look" in 2018 than it is in 2021, the apparent era of the "woke police." Following the backlash to the interview, Harrison apologized for his comments in an Instagram post on Feb. 10, acknowledging he spoke "in a manner that perpetuates racism."
Then, on Feb. 11, Kirkconnell released a statement of her own on Instagram apologizing for her offensive and racist past behavior. Granted, Kirkconnell doesn't say what she's specifically apologizing for, so most Bachelor fans are taking it as a blanket statement covering everything that's been said about her past. She also doesn't mention Matt or her Bachelor appearance at all; instead, she focuses on her past actions and her intentions moving forward.
"While there have been rumors circulating, there have also been truths that have come to light that I need to address," the statement began. "I hear you, and I'm here to say I was wrong."
In what appears to be a response to Harrison's Extra interview, she added that although she behaved this way when she was younger, it doesn't matter when these actions happened; they were wrong no matter what. "At one point, I didn't recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn't excuse them," Kirkconnell continued. "They are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist."
Kirkconnell went on to specifically apologize to "the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended." She noted that while she's ashamed of her lack of education, it's no one's responsibility to educate her and she will continue learning how to be antiracist on her own. Kirkconnell also encouraged those who don't understand the offensive nature of her actions "to use them as a teachable moment," and noted that she wants to put her energy into making sure others don't make "the same offensive mistakes that I made."
She finished by writing, "Racial progress and unity are impossible without (white) accountability, and I deserve to be held accountable for my actions. I don't think one apology means that I deserve you your forgiveness, but rather I hope I can earn your forgiveness through my future actions."
In the caption of her post, Kirkconnell made it clear she was specifically apologizing to the communities of color she hurt, writing, "My statement and apology is for the people of color that I have offended, if you do not identify as BIPOC then it is not your apology to accept or not. Please be respectful to those who have been affected."