Erich Schwer has issued an apology after an old yearbook photo showing him wearing blackface resurfaced online.
The Bachelorette frontrunner shared his statement on Sept. 8 alongside alongside a picture of a black square. The photo, which first began circulating on Reddit several days prior, shows Schwer dressed as Jimi Hendrix wearing blackface and an afro wig.
"I wholeheartedly apologize for the insensitive photo of me in Blackface from my high school yearbook that has been circulating," he wrote on Instagram. "What I thought at the time was a representation of my love for Jimi Hendrix, was nothing but ignorance."
"I was naïve to the hurtful implications of my actions to the Black community and those closest to me, and will forever regret my offensive and damaging behavior," the real estate analyst continued. "I am deeply ashamed by my actions and understand that my apology is only the first step in taking accountability."
Schwer is the only man currently left in contention for co-Bachelorette Gabby Windey's heart after finalists Jason Alabaster and Johnny DePhillipo self-eliminated during the series' Fantasy Suites episodes. Both said they were not ready to get engaged.
This isn't the first time The Bachelor franchise has dealt with racism controversies. Rachael Kirkconnell, who won Matt James' season of The Bachelor, apologized in February 2021 for old social media posts that resurfaced, including photos of Kirkconnell dressed in Native American attire as a costume and attending an antebellum plantation-themed ball.
"At one point, I didn't recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn't excuse them," she said at the time. "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."