Rachel Lindsay Slams 'Bachelor' Franchise, Host Chris Harrison: 'I Can't Take It Anymore'

Fans are calling for Chris Harrison's removal as host after his comments on contestant Rachael Kirkconnell's past racist behavior

Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison
Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison. Photo: Noel Vasquez/Getty; ohn Fleenor via Getty

Rachel Lindsay has publicly called out Chris Harrison, two days after the longtime Bachelor host apologized for perpetuating racism within the franchise.

During Thursday's episode of the Higher Learning with Van Lathan and Rachel Lindsay podcast, Lindsay — who became the first Black Bachelorette in 2017 — spoke out against Harrison after he seemingly defended current contestant Rachael Kirkconnell amid backlash over her past racist behavior. Harrison made the remarks in question during a 14-minute, unedited interview with Lindsay on Extra this week.

"I can't take it anymore," Lindsay, 35, said of her future with the show. "I'm contractually bound in some ways, but when it's up, I am, too. I can't. I can't do it anymore."

The controversy began when Kirkconnell, a frontrunner on Matt James' currently airing season of The Bachelor, was called out for old social media posts which saw her dressed in Native American attire as a costume and attending an antebellum plantation-themed ball. She has since apologized.

Harrison, 49, addressed the situation on Tuesday while speaking with Lindsay on Extra, telling her, in part, that we should all "have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion" in the wake of the photos. His comments didn't sit well with a number of fans — even resulting in a petition calling for him to be removed from the franchise.

Chris Harrison
Chris Harrison. Eric McCandless/Getty Images

In a statement on Wednesday, Harrison apologized for "wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism." But Lindsay is having "a really, really hard time" accepting the apology, she said on Higher Learning.

"When I finished that interview with Chris Harrison, he had no problems with it," she said. "He was fine. He texted me after. He appreciated the conversation. ... He was like, 'Yeah, I'll probably get a little flack,' but thought it was great that we could disagree but do it in a civil way. It wasn't until the backlash came the next day, it wasn't until people start talking, people start demanding and calling for different things, that he then apologized to me and then apologized publicly."

"I'm trying to reason — well, which one is it?" Lindsay continued. "Because to me, Tuesday was your truth and Wednesday is after the fact. Wednesday was a response to the backlash. During that whole conversation, he had the audacity to question me. During that conversation, he talked over me and at me. During that conversation, his privilege was on display. He never gave me room to talk, and he never gave me room to share my perspective. He wasn't trying to hear it, he was just trying to be heard."

"And I'm not saying that he can't be apologetic, I'm not saying that he can't learn and be better from it, like he said in his statement," she added. "But you'll have to give me some space, and you'll have to give me some compassion and some grace to take the time to really reason and accept that. Because that was a lot."

Spokespersons for Harrison and ABC did not have a comment when reached by PEOPLE Friday morning.

Lindsay said she decided to "sit back" and let Harrison talk during their interview because she "needed people to see and hear what was happening."

"There were some people who said, 'Why didn't I press harder?' So I do want to address this," she said. "People of color are not given the benefit of the doubt ... and it is a struggle being a Black woman on television."

"I have to stay calm, I cannot react, I cannot show emotion," she continued. "And the reason is, once I do that, that is all people will see. I will be angry, I will be aggressive, you will not hear what I'm saying, you will not hear what the other person, Chris Harrison in this instance, is saying. You will only see the reaction. And when I saw how this interview was going, I said, 'I'm just going to sit back, and I'm just going to let this man talk. I'm going to hold it together, I'm going to poke just a little bit.'"

Rachel Lindsay
Rachel Lindsay. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Lindsay pointed out that there was "no PR on the call ... nobody to tell us to stop, nobody to tell us to cut some things out, so we played the interview in its entirety on YouTube."

"It was as if Chris Harrison woke up and said, 'You know what? I'm just going to be myself today,'" she said. "I had to stay calm, because I needed people to see and hear what was happening."

"I wanted to react so badly, and if you pay attention to that video, I'm moving my hands together, my foot is moving, because I'm boiling inside," she continued. "And the things that were boiling to me the most were the compassion and the grace and the space that Chris Harrison wanted to give to Rachael but couldn't give to this Rachel in the interview. Couldn't give it to the people that were offended by the things that she did. Where was the compassion for them?"

"What I wanted to shout in that conversation was ... Who are you? Who are you to say something, because you aren't the person who's been offended by the very actions that she is affiliated with by the things she has done. Who is Rachel Lindsay? Rachel Lindsay is a Black woman, the very person who is affected by this Rachael Kirkconnell. So I have every right to speak out and say I'm offended. ... And I have every right to demand the apology."

Given that Harrison is "the face of the franchise," Lindsay said, his statements are indicative of larger issues within it.

"People go to him for his opinion on what's going on within the franchise, for production and what's happening with contestants," she said. "So if he's speaking out in an interview, in this way, to discuss things related to the Bachelor franchise, then what does that really say about the franchise? What does the franchise really represent and mean, if this is your face, this is your spokesperson, and this is what he really feels?"

RELATED VIDEO: Rachel Lindsay Says There Was a 'Racist Contestant' on Her Season of The Bachelorette

She went on to argue that the social media statement Harrison shared is not evidence that he, or the franchise, will actually "do better" when it comes to addressing racism.

"[Harrison] said, 'I promise to do better.' I need people to stop making these statements. What does that look like? What does doing better look like? How are you going to be better? That is what I want to know," she said. "You putting out a statement and disappearing for a few days, weeks, that ain't better. How is Chris Harrison going to be better? Can that please be the next tweet, the next post, of you telling me what you did wrong, because I need to see it, and then how you're going to be better with that."

When co-host Lathan asked where the current controversy puts her within the franchise, Lindsay acknowledged that while her experience with the show benefitted her in ways — notably, it introduced her to now-husband Bryan Abasolo — she has "had enough."

Bryan Abasolo and Rachel Lindsay. Randy Holmes/Getty Images

"As far as me, I'm f---ing tired," she said. "I'm exhausted. I have truly had enough. My entire reason for doing The Bachelorette — and I was lucky it worked out for me in the most beautiful way, in finding Bryan — is that I wanted to be representative as a Black woman to this audience. And I wanted to pave the way for more people to have this opportunity. In some ways, that has happened. I wanted the franchise to be better. I have a love-hate relationship with it. I'm connected to it."

"It did stuff for me, and I'll never forget that," she continued. "But how much more do I want to be affiliated with this? How much more can I take of things like this? I said I was going to leave if they didn't have leads of color. Okay, they did that, and they made some other changes. They hired a diversity consultant. ... Did Chris Harrison not sit through that?"

Several other contestants within the franchise have spoken out in support of Lindsay. On Thursday, the 25 BIPOC contestants from James' season issued a statement via Instagram on the matter.

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."

"Rachel Lindsay continues to advocate with 'grace' for individuals who identify as BIPOC within this franchise," they continued. "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."

And on Friday, a group of 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.

"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; moreover, we stand united with Rachel Lindsay, who has led the way," they concluded.

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