Longtime “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison is stepping away from his role for the time being after facing backlash over his comments defending a contestant accused of racism.
“I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused, and I am deeply remorseful,” Harrison wrote in a lengthy Instagram apology. “My ignorance did damage to my friends, colleagues and strangers alike. I have no one to blame but myself for what I said and the way I spoke.”
He added, “By excusing historical racism, I defended it.”
The post went on to say that he would be “stepping aside for a period of time” and would not be present for the show’s “After the Final Rose” special, which will likely air in March.
The decision comes in the wake of an interview Harrison did on Tuesday with Rachel Lindsay, who was the franchise’s first Black Bachelorette and is now an ExtraTV host. Lindsay asked Harrison about Rachael Kirkconnell, a contestant on this season of “The Bachelor,” the first to have a Black lead.
Earlier this month, photos emerged of Kirkconnell attending an “Old South” ball hosted by a chapter of the Kappa Alpha fraternity. A former high school classmate also accused Kirkconnell of bullying her over liking Black guys. Additionally, “Bachelor” fans have criticized her for liking photos on social media containing Confederate flags, and as well as posting “Blue Lives Matter” messages after protests against police violence swept the country over the summer.
In his interview with Lindsay, Harrison advocated for “a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion” for Kirkconnell, also noting he hadn’t spoken to her about the situation.
Referring specifically to the party photos, Lindsay, said, “She’s celebrating the Old South. If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?”
“I don’t disagree with you, you’re 100 percent right in 2021,” Harrison responded. “That was not the case in 2018.”
In fact, the national Kappa Alpha office had already banned “Old South” parties two years earlier.
Rachael Kirkconnell apologized for her actions in an Instagram post on Friday.
“I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended,” she said. “I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me. I am 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.”