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Singles host Chris Harrison steps down for now: backlash explained

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Bachelor host Chris Harrison (right) with current series frontman Matt James.

ABC

All is not rosy for Chris Harrison. The longtime host of the popular ABCBachelor franchiseSaturday announced that he would be stepping down from organizing The Bachelor “for a period of time” as the backlash continues over his controversial comments on photos showing a current candidate attending a plantation-themed party ahead of the war.

The images evoke a painful period in American history before the Civil War ended slavery and have sparked serious and intriguing discussions among Bachelor fans and former contenders about race, portrayal and responsibility. A petition calling for the removal of Harrison as the host of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and spinoff shows has garnered more than 40,000 signatures and the Hashtag #FireChrisHarrison trending Monday night when a new episode of The Bachelor airs. Rachel Lindsay, the first Black Bachelorette star, says she’s done with the franchise.

“I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused, and I am deeply remorseful,” Harrison said in a public apology on Saturday, the second in a week. “My ignorance has harmed my friends, colleagues and strangers … Now, just as I have taught my children to stand up and take ownership of their actions, so will I.”

Here is all the hubbub, broken down.

What did Chris Harrison say (or not say)?

In an additional interview last Tuesday with former Bachelorette star and current TV presenter Rachel Lindsay, Lindsay touched on photos that had surfaced. Rachael Kirkconnell, a contestant for season 25 of The Bachelor, now airing. The footage shows Kirkconnell with other members of the sorority at a pre-war plantation-themed party at the university in 2018.

The photos have sparked a strong reaction on social media as they evoke the centuries-old racist history of the South. Matt James, star of the current season, is the first black lead of The Bachelor, and Kirkconnell, a 24-year-old graphic designer from Cumming, Ga., Would be the one he chooses to marry / date / appear on the People magazine cover featuring after conquering his field of passion. Kirkconnell has also been accused to like racist social media posts, including some that display Confederate flags.

Rachael

Rachael Kirkconnell, shown on a date with Matt James on The Bachelor, is said to be her favorite.

ABC

“We all need a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion,” said Harrison, 49, during the interview with Lindsay. “Because I’ve seen stuff online – this judge, jury, executioner thing where people tear this girl’s life apart and, like her parents, dive into her parents’ vote. It’s incredibly alarming to look at that.”

Harrison, host of The Bachelor since 2002, said if he didn’t defend the rally, people wouldn’t have looked at an Old South party “under the same lens” in 2018 as they would in 2021, given heightened awareness of racial inequality in the midst ofBlack Lives Matter movement. Lindsay, a strong advocate for diversity in the franchise, disagreed. You can watch the interview below.

“It’s never a good look,” Lindsay said, highlighting the photos’ implicit link with slavery and degradation. “She celebrates the Old South. If I went to this party, what would I represent?” Lindsay, who hosts a Bachelor Nation podcast and occasionally makes cameos on the show, has since said she will not renew his contract with the franchise when it runs out.

“I’m exhausted. I’m really tired of it,” Lindsay said on Friday’s episode of her Spotify Original podcast.Higher Education.

Additional Monday, Lindsay responded to Harrison’s announcement that he was taking time away from the franchise. “I never intended to see Chris Harrison step down, but I intended others to see and hear this interview …”

“Let’s not mark, don’t cancel, but hold people accountable for their actions,” she continued. “Let us set an example for this generation so that we do not repeat the horrible mistakes of the past and so that we can unite and be the change this country needs to make this society better for the next generation.”

It’s unclear how long Harrison will be away from the franchise and ABC did not respond to a request for comment.

How did the public react to the interview with Rachel Lindsay?

Harrison has loyal supporters who stand behind him and denounce the “police awake” and “cancel culture”. A Twitter follower wrote: “I’m sorry you had to apologize. I can’t believe everyone has become so sensitive.” An Instagram response read: “I can’t wait for you to be back and continue with something millions of us love to see you do!”

Still, criticism continued, including on Twitter and The Bachelor subreddit, where the discussion of the controversy eclipsed every other Bachelor buzz for days.

A number of high-level candidates, including Mike Johnson, Taylor nolan and former Bachelorette stars Tayshia Adams,Kaitlyn bristoweand Jillian harris, expressed deep disappointment with Harrison and his choice of words, and called on series producers to take a closer look at the nominees. This season’s star of the show Matt James on Friday expressed gratitude to Lindsay for continuing to shine a light on portrayal and responsibility in the franchise, which fans have criticized for its lack of diversity.

“I am very grateful to have Rachel as a mentor during this season,” James wrote on Instagram. “Your advocacy for BIPOC members in the franchise is invaluable, I am with you and the rest of the women advocating for change and accountability.”

The day before, almost all of The Bachelor Season 25 contestants, including Kirkconnell, posted the same post on social media denouncing any “defense of racism.”

“Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continuing experiences of BIPOC individuals,” the statement said. “These experiences should not be exploited or symbolized.”

“Rachel Lindsay continues to advocate with ‘grace’ for those who identify as BIPOC within this franchise,” the statement concluded. “Just because she speaks the loudest doesn’t mean she’s alone. We are with her, we hear her and we advocate for change with her.”

The men of season 16 of The Bachelorette – which predated Matt James’ season of The Bachelor and featured two back-to-back roles, including Adams, who is black – also released a statement “denouncing racist behavior and any defense of it- this. “

“We had the opportunity to be part of one of the most diverse castings in franchise history,” the statement said. “Adding more people who identify as BIPOC opened the conversation about race, community and who we are as people. A conversation that is long overdue.”

What about Chris Harrison’s first apologies?

On Wednesday, ahead of Saturday’s announcement that he would be taking time off from hospitality, Harrison released the following statement:

“To my Bachelor Nation family – I’ll always own a mistake when I make one, so I’m here to offer a sincere apology,” it read. “I have this incredible platform to talk about love, and yesterday I took a stand on topics on which I should have been better informed.

“While I am not speaking for Rachael Kirkconnell, my intentions were simply to ask for mercy by offering her the opportunity to speak on her own behalf,” he continued. “What I realize now is causing harm by speaking wrongly in a way that perpetuates racism, and for that I am so deeply sorry. I also apologize to my friend Rachel Lindsay for not listen to her better on a subject that she has first-hand understanding and humbly thanks the members of Bachelor Nation who contacted me to hold me accountable. I promise to do better. “

Bachelor Nation, for those not keeping up with the reality TV franchise, refers to the longtime love show fans and alumni. You don’t need a visa to visit Bachelor Nation, just a TV or a computer. Bachelor Nation is known for its dedicated fans with a vocal social media presence, where weekly episodes trigger a fun series of memes and jokes that can get thousands of likes and comments. Reactions to the show’s drama and accelerated relationships are often funny and underhanded, and that tone has seeped into Harrison’s public treatment this week. Most of the discussions, however, have a dark tone.

Harrison’s second excuse was even more forceful.

“To the black community, to the BIPOC community: I’m really sorry,” one reads. “My words were hurtful. I am listening and I really apologize for my ignorance and the pain this has caused you. I want to sincerely thank the people in these communities with whom I have had enlightening conversations over the past few years. days., and I am very grateful to those who have reached out to help me on my path to anti-racism. “

Kirkconnell, for his part, offered his own apologies following Harrison’s interview, saying, “I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist. I feel sorry for the communities and individuals that my actions have harmed. and offended. I am ashamed of my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me. “

“I deserve to be held accountable for my actions,” she concluded. “I will never grow up if I don’t recognize that what I did was wrong. I don’t think a single excuse means that I deserve your forgiveness, but rather I hope that I can earn your forgiveness through my future actions. “



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