'The Bachelor': Rachael Kirkconnell Reveals She Cut Ties With Family After Racist Old South Photos Resurfaced

rachael kirkconnell sorority photo racist
credit: ABC/Craig Sjodin

If you thought The Bachelor star Rachel Kirkconnell’s apology for her racist Antebellum photos from her college days was purely performative, the reality TV star has news for you.

In a new interview with IG page From Privilege to Progress, Rachael revealed some of the things she’s done to become actively anti-racist since the scandal first broke earlier this year. And part of that included cutting out some of her family.

She explained,

“I don’t speak to certain family members anymore because that was probably the first time in my life I realized I need to stop standing aside and I need to speak up and do something.”

Although she didn’t go into details, her comments suggest that she confronted her family members over their racist ways and it didn’t go so well.

She didn’t specify who she cut out of her life, but internet sleuths found proof that her parents were Donald Trump supporters, so they could possibly be on the list.

She also mentioned that she “lost some friends along the way” but didn’t clarify whether that was by choice or not.

Rachael says she is also working hard to use her platform to share what she’s learned over the past several months. She said,

“I’ve learned so much and I try and tell myself, ‘Well, you do have this platform now that you can make a difference with. I have a platform to pave the way for people to find those resources. I have a platform to amplify those resources.'”

While her IG feed is still full of the stereotypical white girl influencer pics, the link in her bio leads to numerous resources to learn about racism and contribute to Black Lives Matter.

An Overdue Apology

The photos of Rachael at the Old South sorority party first surfaced in early February while Rachael was still competing for Matt James‘ heart on The Bachelor.

Many fans were (understandably) upset when she didn’t immediately issue an apology and rumors began swirling that the show’s producers had muzzled her. And according to Rachael, it sounds like there may be some truth to that. She explained,

“I had a lot of people in my ear saying, ‘You’ll have your time. Don’t make it worse. You’ll have your time to speak. We’ll give you a platform. Just wait it out. felt pressure to just keep it all in, to wait, to stay.”

Eventually, she released a written statement to Instagram, which was met with mixed reactions. She said,

“Anyone could have written that statement, which a lot of people had thought. I didn’t even have any sort of representation at that point. People were like, ‘Wow, her publicist did great with this.’ That’s when I was like, it’s not enough.”

It was that same week that everything came a head — Matt dumped her and she felt like she had nothing left to lose. So, she took to IGTV to speak from the heart.

“I was like I have nothing left to lose at this point so that’s when I just decided to post an IGTV of me just speaking. I have to get my voice out there and put my face out there.”

In the video, she double-downed on her apology and told fans not to defend her racist actions.

She told the From Privilege to Progress hosts,

“I didn’t try to make excuses for myself because there are none… That dress and the history of that formal was racist, and I was completely ignorant to that and I needed to be held accountable for that.”

She added,

“I wanted to apologize and for some people, that won’t be enough and I completely understand that. People are more than entitled not to forgive me.”

Learning to Be Anti-Racist

Although her break-up with Matt (they’ve since reconciled) was devastating, it gave her the chance to learn about racism on her own. She said,

“It’s not Matt’s job to educate me. Children need to be educated about their Black history and what society will think of them … and like I said it’s not his job to educate me on that, so I think it’s good to take time to yourself and try and educate yourself on interracial relationships.”

Living With the Shame

Although the media has already moved on, Rachael continues to deal with the fallout from her actions and the shame that comes with it all.

“I’m so ashamed that I basically participated in that unknowingly because I’m sitting here in my own little privileged, selfish world just thinking, ‘Oh, we just put dresses on to go take a photo op.’ It was nothing more than, like, an Instagram opportunity. And like, how terrible is that?”

rachael kirkconnell sorority college
credit: Rachael Kirkconnell / Instagram

She added,

“I didn’t think anything about it because it didn’t affect me personally, you know? So when I first learned that it was [racist], I was really ashamed that I unknowingly participated in that and basically continued that tradition.”

That was the first time she released that not all racism is so obvious.

“That was probably the first time I realized there are layers to this. You can obviously be overtly racist, but you can also have implicit bias and these racial tendencies within you that you don’t even know about, or you can be racially ignorant.”

Moving Forward

Now, Rachael is just trying to find a sense of normalcy. She says she and Matt are “in a great place” and trying to put the whole chapter behind them.

As for Matt, the former Bachelor lead is set to appear on Dancing with Stars. Hopefully, we’ll catch a glimpse of Rachael cheering him on from the audience.


‘The Bachelor’: Rachael Kirkconnell’s Family is ‘Mortified’ By Her Racist Past

Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her hanging out with her tuxedo cat Tom.