Entertainment TV 'Bachelor' BIPOC Contestants 'Disappointed' After Rachael Kirkconnell's Apology for Racist Actions Twenty-five of the women said they want to make it clear that they denounce any defense of racism By Naledi Ushe Naledi Ushe Digital News Writer, PEOPLE People Editorial Guidelines Published on February 11, 2021 11:03 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Matt James with his 32 suitors. Photo: Craig Sjodin via Getty Twenty-five BIPOC contestants from Matt James' season of The Bachelor wrote an open letter condemning the past racist actions of fellow contestant Rachael Kirkconnell. Kirkconnell, 24, has come under fire for old social media posts that have resurfaced — including photos of her dressed in Native American attire as a costume and attending an antebellum plantation-themed ball. She has since apologized for the behavior. In the letter posted on Thursday on Instagram by several of James' contestants, they began, "We are the women of Bachelor Season 25. Twenty-five women who identify as BIPOC were cast on this historic season that was meant to represent change. We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism." "Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals. These experiences are not to be exploited or tokenized," the women continued. Rachael Kirkconnell and Matt James. Craig Sjodin/Getty Images The Bachelor's Rachael Kirkconnell Apologizes for Past Racist Actions — 'I Was Wrong' The group directed their support to the first Black Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, 35, who recently had an intense conversation with host Chris Harrison, 49, explaining the negative implications of Kirkconnell's actions. "Rachel Lindsay continues to advocate with 'grace' for individuals who identify as BIPOC within this franchise. Just because she is speaking the loudest, doesn't mean she is alone. We stand with her, we hear her, and we advocate for change alongside her." The line was in apparent reference to Harrison's remarks that "we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion" in the wake of Kirkconnell's resurfaced photos. Harrison has since apologized for the sentiment and acknowledged speaking in "a manner that perpetuates racism." On Friday, the male contestants from the most recent season of The Bachelor, led by Clare Crawley followed by her mid-season replacement Tayshia Adams, issued their own statement on the matter. "As members of season 16 of The Bachelorette, it is important that we acknowledged where we stand at this time," they began. "We had the opportunity to be a part of one of the most diverse casts in the history of the franchise. The addition of more people who idenfity as BIPOC has opened up the conversation on race, community, and who we are as people. A conversation that has been long overdue." "We stand united in denouncing racist behavior and any defense thereof. We also stand united with the women of season 25 of The Bachelor, who have denounced the same; moroever, we stand united with Rachel Lindsay, who has led the way," the statement concluded. Ivan Hall, one of Adams' finalists, thanked Lindsay and Adams for "holding it down" in his Instagram caption of the statement. The Bachelor's Chris Harrison Apologizes for 'Speaking in a Manner That Perpetuates Racism' In her statement Thursday, Kirkconnell apologized "to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended." She admitted her "ignorance was racist" and said, "I was wrong." The reality star, who has not yet been eliminated this season, added that at the time, she "didn't recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn't excuse them." "My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not ok or acceptable in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist," she wrote. Kirkconnell added that she is "learning and will continue to learn how to be antiracist, because it's important to speak up in the moment and not after you're called out." "If you are a person who doesn't understand the offense in question, I urge you to learn from my mistakes and encourage you to use them as a teachable moment," she told her followers.