On the March 8 episode of the ABC series, Matt sat down with his father, Manny James, and discussed their estranged relationship. In a new episode of the Bachelor Party podcast, Rachel spoke out against the televised moment, telling listeners she is "so disturbed" by how the conversation was shown.
"I felt it in my soul and I had to speak out about it because I am so disturbed at what I just watched take place on the Bachelor stage—the conversation between Matt and his father," she told host Juliet Litman. "What's the one thing we know about his dad? That he wasn't around…that's it. That's all we know, which if you know anything about stereotypes assigned to particular races—here the Black race—you know that absentee fathers is a stereotype, so the fact that that's all we know about Matt's dad and one of the few things that we know about Matt."
Reflecting on how the 29-year-old first Black lead of The Bachelor has been portrayed thus far in the series, Rachel noted the absence of his dad in his life has been a major plot point.
"We know that Matt has not been able to open up and to fully express himself in these relationships because he still has to get over the hurdle—at least this is how it's portrayed to us—still has to get over the hurdle of confronting his father about the fact that he was not around when he was growing up," Rachel explained. "Matt can't get to the next level until he has this conversation. That's how this has been presented to us."
The former Bachelorette star was candid in her criticism of the show's decision to air the personal chat. "Who green-lit this is the question—if you have a diversity consultant affiliated that you keep telling us over and over about and I even praised the fact that you had them, why are things like this still happening?" she asked. "The more things change, the more they remain the same and if the Bachelor franchise has shown us anything, it's that they don't know how to protect people of color. They only know how to exploit them. They only know how to mishandle situations when they come to race. That is what they've shown us time and time again. This should never have been aired for America to see."
Rachel acknowledged that the conversation may have been necessary for Matt to have with his dad, but that didn't mean the audience needed to join, too. "This was a conversation that should have just been for Matt, not for the rest of the world to see," she opined. "It shows that you don't care about your contestants, specifically the ones of color—the fact that you were more so willing to exploit him and stereotypes within the Black community for what you would call 'good TV.'"
The former reality TV star also took issue with how this conversation was aired amid ongoing issues with how matters of inclusion and diversity have been handled by the franchise, including host Chris Harrison's recent problematic comments to Rachel about contestant Rachael Kirkconnell. "I know for a fact Matt was uncomfortable with this conversation," Rachel said, "and the fact that it was going to be aired."
The situation was a reminder of why she has continued to call for people of color to be included in the franchise's decision-making process. "This is why I always go back to this—you've got to have a person of color in the decision room," she urged. "If I had been in there, absolutely not."
Tonight’s convo with my dad was hard to experience, and it’s just as hard to watch all this time later, especially knowing the world is watching with me.— Matt James (@mattjames919) March 9, 2021
On Monday evening, Matt also addressed the conversation. "Tonight's convo with my dad was hard to experience, and it's just as hard to watch all this time later, especially knowing the world is watching with me," Matt tweeted. "I just wanted to say that too often, we see dangerous stereotypes and negative depictions of Black fathers in media. And they have consequences when presented without context...All I hope is that people watch that conversation with nuance, care, and also an understanding that there are real systemic issues at play. I'm so proud of myself for being vulnerable, and I'm so proud of my mother. I wouldn't be who I am without my dad. That's a fact."
E! News has reached out to ABC for comment in response to Rachel's recent remarks.