Bachelor's Rachael Kirkconnell Urges People Defending Her Past Racist Actions to 'Please Stop'
"Things will never change if we don't all work together in working towards this racial progress and this unity that we want," the current Bachelor contestant said in a video on Instagram Thursday
Rachael Kirkconnell is speaking out two weeks after issuing an apology for her past racist behavior.
Speaking in a video shared on Instagram Thursday, Kirkconnell said that moving forward, she will dedicate her platform to sharing anti-racism resources. She also condemned people who have questioned the backlash she has received since previous posts of hers resurfaced online, including photos of her dressed in Native American attire as costume and attending an antebellum plantation-themed ball.
"Over the last few weeks, since I put my statement out, I've gotten a lot of messages," Kirkconnell began the video Thursday. "I've got a lot of people asking me, well, what have you done to change since then? And I've also had a lot of people message me saying that they aren't understanding why people are so upset. But they want to, and they've asked for resources, which I think is great."
"But then there's also people messaging me saying 'You know, you've done nothing wrong, don't listen to people,' " she continued. "I think that the first big step in all of this is white people stepping up and taking accountability. Things will never change if we don't all work together in working towards this racial progress and this unity that we want."
Kirkconnell said that she has been "hesitant" to share anti-racism resources on her platform up until this point because she doesn't want people "thinking that, you know, it's performative or that it's something that I don't truly stand by."
"I've come to realize that sitting aside and hiding in the corner and, you know, avoid[ing] being called performative — that doesn't help anyone or anything," she said. "Even if that is what people think when I speak on these subjects of injustice and racism, you know, that's not what really matters."
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"This entire movement in where we are in this country, it's just so much bigger than this," she continued. "I want and need to use my privilege and my platform that I so do not deserve just to shine a light on these issues and try and do what I can to you know take a step in the right direction."
Kirkconnell concluded her video by asking anyone who is "defending" her to "please stop."
"If you are in my comments or defending me anywhere telling people that I did nothing wrong, that there's nothing to be hurt about, there's nothing to be angry about or offended about, please stop," she said. "That's not our place to tell people what they can and can't be offended about. That's wrong and that's part of the problem."
"So please stop saying that I did nothing wrong. That's not true," she said, adding that instead people should "encourage others around you to do better."
Kirkconnell shared several Instagram accounts that provide anti-racism resources on her Instagram Story, adding in one slide, "I promise to continue to amplify BIPOC voices and resources if there's a chance these can reach someone and begin conversations, because breaking the generational chain of racism starts with conversations and education. It's one of the biggest steps we can take."
Kirkconnell's video comes three days after current Bachelor Matt James — whose season she is currently on — spoke out about her actions as well as host Chris Harrison's decision to step aside from the franchise after defending her.
James said that said that the controversy — "including the incredibly disappointing photos of Rachael Kirkconnell and the interview between Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison" — has been "devastating and heartbreaking, to put it bluntly."
In an Extra interview with Lindsay, who was the franchise's first Black lead, Harrison, 49, said people should have "a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion" in the wake of the resurfaced photos and questioned the "lens" of 2021 compared to 2018, which was when some of Kirkconnell's posts were first shared. After receiving backlash for his remarks, Harrison issued two apologies and announced that he would be stepping away from the franchise for an unspecified amount of time.
A source told PEOPLE this week that Bachelor producers are working to make "appropriate changes" in the franchise.
"A lot of work is being done behind the scenes to make the appropriate changes and proper moves going forward with the franchise," the source said. As for Harrison, the source added, "There are talks happening regarding Chris Harrison and his future with the show."