Fans of “The Bachelor” are calling on ABC to oust host Chris Harrison following an interview in which he called for “grace” toward a contestant that had been caught attending an “Old South” fraternity party.
During an interview on Extra with Rachel Lindsay — the franchise’s first black Bachelorette — Harrison seemingly defended Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkcollin after photos resurfaced of the front-runner attending an “antebellum-themed” party. Harrison claimed that the photo would have been less controversial in 2018 when it was taken, and called on fans to show “a little understanding, a little compassion” until the contestant explains herself.
“I have seen some stuff online, again, this judge, jury, executioner thing where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart, and diving into her and her parents voting record, it’s unbelievably alarming to watch this,” Harrison said. “I’m not defending [Kirkcollin], I just know that, I don’t know, 50 million people did that in 2018.”
Lindsay disagreed with Harrison, saying that he should condemn the contestant as any party that celebrates the “Old South” has always been racist, no matter the date.
Kirkcollin made headlines in recent weeks after photos unsurfaced of the Georgia College & State University graduate attending an “antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal,” which had been outlawed by the university.
— Rosé (@TeaAndRoses21) February 4, 2021
The contestant has also fallen under fire from a TikTok user who claims Kirkcollin bullied her for dating black men in high school.
Bachelor franchise fans are now calling for Harrison to resign or be fired from his hosting position, which he’s held since the show’s inception in 2002.
The Change.org petition demands that Harrison be let go for his “history of misogyny and racist behavior and racist-sympathizing behavior.” It has garnered over 30,000 signatures in 24 hours.
The petition calls out Harrison for comments in 2018 where he defended the show’s merit-based casting system. Harrison was asked whether the franchise should cast a black Bachelor. “Sure, if someone is really amazing and comes along,” Harrison said. “We won’t pick one just to pick one. But if someone is phenomenal and just happens to be black, sure.”
Following the backlash, Harrison released a statement on his Instagram account apologizing for his role in perpetuating racism.
“Yesterday I took a stance on topics about which I should have been better informed,” Harrison said. “My intentions were simply to ask for grace in offering her an opportunity to speak on her own behalf. What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that I am so deeply sorry.”
Harrison also extended an apology to Lindsay.
After Harrison’s apology, Bachelor fans updated the Change.org petition to read, “this is not a petition for an apology. It’s a petition for a new host.”
Kirkcollin broke her silence after the weeks of controversy by offering an apology and promising to learn how to be an “anti-racist.”
“I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended. I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me,” Kirkcollin wrote. “I am learning and will continue to learn how to be anti-racist.”
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