After weeks of racist controversies swarming this year’s season of The Bachelor (and many Instagram statements) Rachael Kirkconnell has finally spoken up— in front of a camera...
I was pretty surprised to see her do this as we get closer and closer to the finale. Before clicking on the IGTV post titled “antiracism resources / to those defending me” I prepared myself for a messy, tear-filled apology with countless defensive remarks. Crying because you hurt someone else’s feelings kind of gives me gaslighting vibes, and I’m not here for it. But this isn’t what happened, at least not how I see it. Her eyes weren’t red, and she didn’t seem to be making her voice crack every few moments to sound more “real”, although I was still wary about what this would be, as we’ve all seen so many flat celebrity apologies throughout the past few years, and there are many I couldn’t even bear to watch because it felt as though their publicists were directing the whole thing. When past Bachelorette Hannah Brown was under fire for saying the n-word on Instagram live last year, I didn’t even bother watching her video response (mostly because her immediate reaction after saying the n-word was quite...flippant?). Bottom line is, most of the time, it doesn’t feel genuine.
One of the main points throughout Rachael’s video was her issue with people telling her she shouldn’t be apologizing for all of her racist behaviours. She even mentioned that she’s “tired” of getting those messages and not saying anything. This was important to me: the fact that she’s calling out the people who blindly support her shows that she doesn’t care about losing those followers. Everyone who is a fan of the Bachelor franchise knows a lot of the cast members come on the show so they can make cash off Instagram. Honestly, I don’t blame them; if I could pay off my student loans by selling whitening strips, I would too. Rachael making it a point to call out her fans helps them understand it’s not right, and shows that she’s committed to doing better, no matter the cost. It’s not something I think she should get a gold star for, but it’s the bare minimum in a situation where you know you’ve done something wrong. I just think it’s notable to show some movement in the right direction.
Another thing she spoke on was why she’s been waiting so long to say something. She said it’s because she was worried people would think it’s performative to save face. She then realized that sitting around waiting for the right time wasn’t going to do any good, and that she wanted to share things that have helped her on “this journey”. As a Black person, it’s just wild to hear people talk about racism like it’s something they didn’t realize was a thing until recently. The journey that she is deciding to embark on is something that I didn’t get to decide to be part of simply because I’m me. Why is it that respect for the BIPOC community is seen as some daunting journey if it’s just...not being racist? My answer? White privilege. Yes, it is commendable that Rachael is open about her ignorance, but why did it take a scandal so large at the age of 24 for her to realize it? That just shows that there are many, many people out there in the same boat. Scary.
Nevertheless, Rachael bringing up the reason why she was stalling was a good call. Addressing it head on shows that she’s aware that suddenly sharing resources about racism can look like she’s just trying to get on everyone’s good side. Even day to day people can fall into being performative. I’m sure you probably know someone who reposted #BLM graphics on their Instagram stories back in the summer when it was “trendy” but hasn’t said a word about Black History Month. Black Lives Still Matter, by the way.
Rachael did mention that she is sharing in hopes of using her huge platform (over 400K followers—wow) for good. After her video, she posted many resources which included one about the racist history of fraternities, and another one about why wearing Native-inspired costumes for Halloween is disrespectful.
But even though I appreciate her video, I still feel like there’s something more at play. There can be multiple reasons she’s saying something now. My gut is telling me she’s the winner. Think about it, if she did wait until after the finale, imagine the MESS. especially during the live After the Final Rose special. The show has been boycotted by fans, and lots of past and present cast members have spoken out against it too. Chris Harrison is out for who knows how long. The show is crumbling. Of course the people on the top of this are activating damage control. Now that she has made a video taking accountability, it’s almost as if this video came just in time to cushion the aftermath of her getting the ring. It’s almost as if she’s gotten the “hard” stuff out of the way so she doesn’t have to say anything she hasn’t already in the live finale special. On live TV, there’s the element of unpredictability. But an IGTV video can definitely be tweaked and perfected until it’s exactly what is wanted (her video had cuts in it which means it was edited at some capacity). Although I want to believe her when she says she waited because she was afraid of being labelled as performative, there’s probably a deeper meaning that goes beyond herself and into The Bachelor machine. The sad truth is, despite scandal, this show has been untouchable in its past. Now that people are threatening their allegiance to the show, they suddenly are willing to have Chris step down and make change. It’s all about the money. Is Rachael solely referring to being performative in racial justice, or is it also because she won the first Black Bachelor’s season?
All in all, I thought it was a decent effort. Although I wish she mentioned exactly what her wrongs were, she took accountability for the actions and made it clear that she didn’t see herself as a victim in this. Just because I think it was a good apology, doesn’t mean it's all sunshine and roses. I’m still disappointed that any of this happened to begin with and hoping something like this never happens again. All we can do now is wait and see if, after the talking, she makes real change.