During The Bachelor: After the Final Rose finale special on ABC Monday night, bachelor Matt James confronted winner Rachael Kirkconnell over her racially insensitive social media posts from 2018.
Kirkconnell posted pictures of herself attending an antebellum plantation-themed college party in 2018. She’s also been accused of liking photos of people posing in front of a Confederate flag.
James, the show’s first Black bachelor, chose the graphic designer as his final pick. But when the show taped, he was unaware of her past posts. He expressed his frustration Monday night.
“The most disappointing thing for me was having to explain to you why what I saw was problematic and why I was so upset,” James told her.
“And so when I questioned our relationship, it was on the context of you not fully understanding my Blackness, and what it means to be a Black man in America and what it would mean for our kids when I saw those things that were floating around the internet. And it broke my heart because this is the last conversation I thought we’d be having. I didn’t sign up to have this conversation,” he continued.
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James went on to say he needed to step away from the relationship while Kirkconnell did “the work” on her own.
“And I knew that I had to take a step back for you to put in that work that you outlined that you needed to do, and that’s something that you’ve got to do on your own,” he said. “And that’s why we can’t be in a relationship.”
Due to fallout over her posts, Bachelor host and producer Chris Harrison stepped away from the show after defending Kirkconnell, and former NFL player Emmanuel Acho hosted the finale special in his place.
At the end of the show, Acho encouraged the two to embrace, but James refused to do so and the tension in the air was obvious.
In another development, Acho introduced the franchise’s surprise double bachelorettes, finalist Michelle Young as well as outspoken contestant Katie Thurston. This will be the first time the franchise has two Bachelorette leads. Thurston’s season will air first followed by Young’s season.
Watch a clip of James’ discussion with Kirkconnell below: