Why Rachel Lindsay Is Struggling to Accept Chris Harrison's Apology Amid Rachael Kirkconnell Controversy

After Chris Harrison received backlash for his interview with Rachel Lindsay about Rachael Kirkconnell, The Bachelorette alum shared her thoughts on their talk and his apology.

By Elyse Dupre, Jamie Blynn Feb 12, 2021 7:16 PMTags
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Rachel Lindsay is sharing what she really thought of Chris Harrison's Extra interview and subsequent apology.

Earlier in the week, the duo sat down for a chat about the Feb. 8 episode of The Bachelor. During their conversation, Harrison addressed contestant Rachael Kirkconnell amid allegations about her controversial past. And his defense did not sit well with Lindsay, the franchise's first Black lead.

"It was as if Chris Harrison woke up and said, 'You know what? I'm just going to be myself today,'" she recalled on the Feb. 12 episode of her podcast Higher Learning With Van Lathan and Rachel Lindsay. "There was no PR on the call. There was nobody to stop him."

One point that left Lindsay "boiling," as she explained, was when Harrison asked viewers to give Kirkconnell compassion, noting he "couldn't give it to this Rachel in the interview" and "couldn't give it to the people that were offended by the things that she did."

Bachelor Nation Reacts to Chris Harrison Controversy

She also brought up Harrison questioning the calls for Kirkconnell to apologize.

"Basically saying, 'Who are we to tell her when she should apologize? Who are we to tell her that we're offended?' Do you understand how problematic that is?" the season 13 lead said on the podcast. "What I wanted to shout in that conversation is, 'You're right Chris Harrison? 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 that she's 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, I have every right to say this is what she should do, and I have every right to demand the apology."

ABC/Craig Sjodin, Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock, ABC/Craig Sjodin

Despite saying Harrison "never gave me room to talk...to share my perspective," Lindsay said she remained calm throughout the frustrating conversation because she "needed people to see and hear what was happening."

"People of color are not given the benefit of the doubt," she said. "And it is a struggle being a Black woman on television—because I have seen it happen to me the other way...I have to stay even-keeled. I have to stay calm. I cannot react. I cannot show emotion. I cannot show my slip, as you would say in the South. The reason is because, once I do that, that's all people will see."

After Harrison received backlash from the interview, he reached out to Lindsay and apologized. He then posted a statement to Instagram saying he's "deeply sorry" for "speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism." While Lindsay said she appreciated the apology, she acknowledged she was having a hard time accepting it.

"When I finished that interview with Chris Harrison, he had no problems with it," she explained. "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 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 for different things, that he then apologized to me and then apologized publicly. For me, I'm trying to reason which one is it? Because, to me, Tuesday was your truth, and Wednesday was after the fact. Wednesday was a response to the backlash."

Now, a "f--king tired" Lindsay is questioning her future with Bachelor Nation. "I'm contractually bound in some ways," she said. "But when it's up, I can't. I can't do it anymore."

ABC has yet to publicly comment on the allegations against Kirkconnell; however she spoke out in a post shared to Instagram Feb. 11. "While there have been rumors circulating, there have also been truths that have come to light that I need to address. I hear you, and I'm here to say I was wrong," she wrote in part. "At one point, I didn't recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn't excuse them. My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist. I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended."