Rachel Lindsay Says It Was the 'Right Decision' for Chris Harrison to Step Aside as Bachelor Host
Lindsay, the first Black Bachelorette — who previously called out the host for his comments about contestant Rachael Kirkconnell's past racist actions — said on Monday that she believes it was the "right decision" for Harrison to step aside from the franchise.
Lindsay, 35, told Extra host Billy Bush on Monday that she was "stunned" after her interview with Harrison, during which he said that Kirkconnell deserved "compassion" after social media posts of hers surfaced — including Kirkconnell dressing up as a Native American person and attending an antebellum plantation-themed ball.
Harrison, 49, announced Saturday he would step away from the franchise to "try to evolve and be a better man." A decision Lindsay welcomes, she said Monday.
"Like he said, he needs to take time to get educated and on a profound and productive level to use his word," she said. "And I think he needs to understand what was done, what was wrong, and what he said in that interview, and he needs time. He's stepped away to do that."
Prior to his announcement he would be taking a break from the show, Harrison initially apologized to Lindsay and for "wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism" a day after his interview with the former Bachelorette was met with backlash.
Lindsay told Bush that it's hard for her to "fully accept" Harrison's apology because it came "after the fact."
"I'm going to need that time and space and compassion that he referenced to really accept the apology, because [Chris wasn't] apologetic at first," she said. "I'm not saying I can't get there, it's just, initially, it's a little tough for me."
Lindsay said that Harrison's comments were an example of implicit racism.
"Because when you think of racism, you think explicit racism… you think wearing a white hood, you know? Saying things that are derogatory or offensive," she explained.
"That's explicit racism, but then there's implicit racism where you have these unconscious biases and stereotypes and misconceptions of certain groups, and that's what we were seeing in that interview, and I think it was a moment for people to recognize what was being said and to learn and grow from it, which is what we're seeing happen now with Chris."
During Harrison and Lindsay's Extra interview last Tuesday, Harrison suggested that Kirkconnell's behavior was acceptable in 2018, but that her actions look different through a 2021 lens.
On Monday, Lindsay said that she wished she had asked Harrison what he meant by that.
"But, in that moment, I wish I would have said, particularly when he talked about the difference between 2018 and 2021, when he said, 'was it not a good look there, or was it not… a good look in 2021?'" Lindsay said. "I wish I would have said, 'What do you mean by that? What was the difference in 2018?' He kept talking about this lens, that we were looking at things through 2018 versus 2021 — I wish I had asked him to explain that."
On Saturday, in his second apology announcing his departure, the longtime host wrote that he has "no one to blame but myself for what I said and the way I spoke."
"I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong," Harrison added. "To the Black community, to the BIPOC community: I am so sorry. My words were harmful. I am listening, and I truly apologize for my ignorance and any pain it caused you."
Prior to Harrison's decision to step away, contestant Kirkconnell — who is on Matt James' current season of the ABC reality show — admitted that her "ignorance was racist" and that "I was wrong."
"At one point, I didn't recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn't excuse them," she said. "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 said in a statement shared on Instagram Thursday.
She apologized "to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended," and said that she was "ashamed" of her ignorance and hopes to do better in the future.
"Racial progress and unity are impossible without (white) accountability, and I deserve to be held accountable for my actions," she continued. "I will never grow unless I recognize what I have done is wrong."