The last few weeks in Bachelor Nation have been the most intense yet as Bachelor fans demand a racial reckoning in the franchise.
Blink and you’ll miss the latest headline — Bryan Abasolo blasting Chris Harrison, Tayshia Adams responding to Rachael Kirkconnell’s racist antebellum photos, and more.
Although Bachelor alums have never been more vocal about the racism in Bachelor Nation, none have been nearly as active as Rachel Lindsay.
Since becoming the first Black lead in the Bachelor Nation franchise, Rachel has been courageously outspoken on the problematic nature of the shows while others sit idly by.
With no other Black Bachelor leads at the time, Rachel was essentially pigeonholed into becoming the mouthpiece for BIPOC alums and has since become a force to be reckoned with.
So, after Chris Harrison spent 14 minutes during his Extra interview gaslighting her, silencing her, and disrespecting her, fans were on pins and needles waiting for her response.
Rachel Describes the Appalling Interview
If you haven’t watched the interview yet, do yourself a favor and watch it right now (below). It’s pretty disgusting.
When Rachel finally decided to speak out on the interview itself, she did not mince words. On her Higher Learning podcast, she said,
“During that conversation, he talked over me and at me, during that conversation. He never gave me room to talk. And he never gave me room to share my perspective.”
“He wasn’t trying to hear it. He was just trying to be heard. And that’s because I felt like he had an agenda that he was trying to push.”
And it sounds like Rachel was pretty surprised by the way it went down. She told E! News,
“Chris is somebody who has been the face of the franchise for so many years. You usually get the PC answer from him, so I was a little shocked that he wanted to talk a little bit more on the subject.”
Rachel Finally Answers Whether She Would Replace Chris Harrison
Since Chris first announced that he would be temporarily stepping down, fans have had so many questions.
We all know he won’t be hosting the After the Final Rose for Matt James’ season, but will he be back for The Bachelorette? For Bachelor in Paradise?
And more importantly, who the hell is going to replace him?
Fans have already called for Rachel Lindsay to host the ATFR but it sounds like it’s not exactly her top priority.
She told E! News,
“Honestly, I am not even thinking about that. I think the bigger picture is that there is an issue and Chris is recognizing it, other people are recognizing.”
“I think if my message is to really make change and to really create a level of awareness, then I can’t be focused on trying to take somebody else’s job. I am just focused on really us getting to a place of unity where we can all be better.”
She’s Afraid Chris Will Disappear And Act Like it Never Happened
Of course, many fans are petitioning for Chris to be fired altogether and never return. (As of the writing of this article, the Change.org petition has over 41,478 signatures.)
Many believe that Chris’ two apologies were insincere and feel his perpetual racism has shown that he more than deserves to be fired.
But Rachel isn’t quite ready to give up on him — yet. She told Extra,
“I think you have to see what happens. I think I don’t want to play into things too quick to judge someone, right? Am I disappointed? Absolutely. Do I agree with what happened in that interview? No. But at the same time, he has taken the steps to not issue one but two apologies. Let’s see what happens from there.”
That being said, Rachel isn’t naive to how much work it will take for Chris to redeem himself.
On her Higher Learning podcast, she said,
“I’ll tell you what I’ll be mad about: He goes away, we don’t see him at the finale, and he pops back up in Paradise like the last four or five months didn’t happen. You need to show me that there’s been some change within you. Disappearing from the public eye isn’t the change I need to see.”
So what can he do?
Rachel said that Chris will need to do a lot more than simply do some anti-racist learning. She wants him to actually “immerse himself in the culture.”
“I want to see [him] volunteering. I want to see [him] donating.”
She Says Rachael Kirkconnell’s Apology is Too Little Too Late
Putting aside Chris for a moment, we still have Rachael Kirkconnell to deal with.
Nearly six weeks after we first learned about her racist past, Rachael finally released an apologetic statement (you can read the full thing here).
But according to Rachel Lindsay, six weeks was absolutely way too long. She told E! News,
“I mean, it’s an apology. We’ve been asking for it for a long time. I think it’s a little bit after the fact, but she apologized.”
“It was a great written statement and it’s just holding her accountable to the things she said she is going to commit to and that’s all we can do at this point.”
As most people know at this point, Rachael Kirkconnell was told to stay silent by ABC, who hoped the racism scandal would just magically go away.
But as Rachel Lindsay pointed out during that original Extra interview with Chris, Rachael was not under contract to stay silent. She could have said something without breaking her NDA.
Of course, that’s much easier said than done. But it’s important to know that Rachel was technically capable of doing the right thing, she was just led astray by people who didn’t have her best interest at heart.
She Thinks Hannah Brown is a Prime Example of the Racism Problem
We all know Rachael Kirkconnell isn’t the first racist to appear in the show (ahem, Lee Garrett, Victoria Fuller, etc.)
Former Bachelorette lead Hannah Brown has done a few racist things at this point including saying the n-word on Instagram live.
Most recently, a photo surfaced of Hannah Brown dressed as a Southern Belle at a 2013 event.
But instead of addressing it, Hannah deleted it and tried to pretend it never happened.
When Rachel heard about Hannah’s deleted photos, she pointed out how this was a prime example of the problematic way that white people try to “deal” with racism: by pretending it never happened.
Rachel wrote in a Reddit AMA,
“This is why actions speak louder than words. This is why we have uncomfortable conversations and this could have really been a big teaching moment. We can’t continue on a path of pretending things did not happen or running away from them. We do not ‘learn and grow’ from that”
She’s Officially Done With the Franchise
After several years of dealing with racist bullshit, Rachel is absolutely exhausted.
And while she’ll most likely never be done speaking out, she does need to take a break.
You see, in addition to being a correspondent for Extra, Rachel still co-hosts the official Bachelor podcast with fellow alum Becca Kufrin, Bachelor Happy Hour. But once her contract is up, she’s out.
In the AMA, she explained,
“I was already was considering leaving but I love Becca. Now I am just exhausted and really need to separate myself from direct affiliation with the franchise. I don’t want to be a part of something that is representative of the franchise at the moment.”
If anyone deserves a break, it’s Rachel Lindsay. She’s done more for this franchise than anyone else ever has and shouldn’t have to keep giving us her emotional labor for free.
It’s time for the rest of Bachelor Nation to step up.
While it’s encouraging to see more alums speaking out, they’ll need to keep speaking out well past this situation is out of the news.
If the Bachelor franchise is to survive, there’s going to need to be a lot of change — most of which will need to come from the ABC executives and the producers. But we’ll also need more alums to call the show out like Rachel has done. And we’ll need fans to continue to hold ABC accountable.
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Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel and when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her obsessing over her tuxedo cat Tom or hoarding drugstore lipsticks.