Chris Harrison Speaks Out About Racism Controversy on GMA, Reveals Plans to Return to The Bachelor
The Bachelor’s Chris Harrison has spoken for the first time since stepping away from the franchise last month.
Sitting down with Michael Strahan for an interview on Good Morning America, Harrison addressed the recent racism controversy involving himself and Season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell.
To summarize, Kirkconnell, who has become a clear frontrunner for this season’s star and first Black Bachelor Matt James, faced intense scrutiny when a viral TikTok accused her of sharing posts pushing QAnon conspiracy theories and liking others containing the Confederate flag.
Additional unearthed pictures, which appeared on Reddit, also show the Bachelor contestant at an “Old South” plantation-themed college party in 2018.
Harrison later sat down for an interview with Rachel Lindsay, the first and only Black woman to be cast as The Bachelorette lead, to address the controversy.
“Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference,” Harrison said, adding, “The woke police is out there, and this poor girl Rachael has just been thrown to the lions.”
Harrison’s comments instantly sparked a wave of backlash, many noting that he failed to sympathize with Lindsay while discussing the Antebellum South, and lacked an understanding of the nation’s history.
James specifically praised Lindsay for “patiently explaining the racist history of the Antebellum South,” adding that it is “a painful history that every American should understand intimately.”
Both Kirkconnell and Harrison have since apologized for their actions and comments, and Harrison has temporarily stepped down as host of the franchise.
Now, speaking with Strahan on Thursday, Harrison admitted he made a mistake, noting, “I am an imperfect man.”
“I believe that mistake doesn’t reflect who I am or what I stand for,” he added. “I am committed to progress, not just for myself, also for the franchise. And this is a franchise that has been a part of my life for the better part of 20 years and I love it.”
Strahan later pressed Harrison on what he said to Lindsay during the Extra interview — asking if there is a difference between Kirkconnell’s photos being from 2018 or 2021.
“There is not,” Harrison replied. “Antebellum parties are not ok. Past, present, future, knowing what that represents is unacceptable.”
“I am saddened and shocked at how insensitive I was in that interview with Rachel Lindsay. I can’t believe I didn’t speak against antebellum parties, what they stand for,” said Harrison. “I didn’t say it then and I want to say it now: those parties are not ok, past, present, future. And I didn’t speak from my heart. And that is to say that I stand against all forms of racism, and I am deeply sorry to Rachel Lindsay and to the Black community.”
Strahan later addressed the online harassment and bullying Lindsay has faced since the Extra interview, noting that she even had to deactivate her Instagram account.
Have you had a chance to talk to her and if so what was that conversation?” Strahan asked.
Harrison admitted he has not spoken to her since she deactivated her account, but stressed to fans of the franchise that he is “not a victim here,” adding, “To anyone who is throwing hate towards Rachel Lindsay, please stop. It is unacceptable.”
“I made a mistake and I own that. Racism, oppression, these are big, dynamic problems and they take serious work and I am committed to that work,” Harrison said.
He also revealed that he has been seeking advice from educators like Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, a Georgetown University sociology professor.
“I sought out leading scholars, teachers, faith leaders, people like Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, who I am so grateful for, and I’ve also been working closely with a race educator and strategist. I thank them all,” he said. “But Dr. Dyson often talks to me about council. Not cancel, and that is full accountability, understanding what you didn’t understand, owning that, learning from that, seeking counsel often in the community that you hurt, learning from them, listening, gaining experience, knowledge and moving forward.”
Despite the scandal, Harrison revealed he plans to return to the franchise.
“I plan to be back and I want to be back. And I think this franchise can be an important beacon of change,” he said. “I know that change is felt, not just by me, but by many others. And we are excited and willing to do the work to show that progress. This interview is not the finish line. There is much more work to be done. And I am excited to be a part of that change.”
“A lot more work to be done. I cannot agree with you more on that,” Strahan replied.
“His apology is his apology but it felt like it got nothing more than a surface response on any of this and obviously he is a man who wants to clearly stay on the show,” Strahan said following the interview. “But only time will tell if there is any meaning behind his words.”
Watch above, via ABC News.
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