Chris Harrison's Recent Interview Proves He's The Wrong Spokesperson For 'The Bachelor'
Written by Black Voices on February 10, 2021
“Bachelor” host Chris Harrison has so much to say about racism.
Not in regards to the outcry among the many franchise’s fan base over a burgeoning physique of proof that certainly one of Bachelor Matt James’ frontrunners has engaged in racist habits — together with attending an antebellum-themed celebration in 2018 and liking images containing Accomplice flags — however in regards to the “woke police” he believes are intent on ruining the lives of poor, unsuspecting white “Bachelor” contestants.
On Tuesday, in a virtually 15-minute interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, who’s now a bunch for ExtraTV, Harrison spoke passionately in regards to the want for “somewhat grace, somewhat understanding, somewhat compassion” for Rachael Kirkconnell, a contestant on this season of “The Bachelor” — its first with a Black lead. Because the present started airing in January, followers have noticed some regarding on-line historical past from Kirkconnell, from her posts about QAnon-linked baby trafficking myths to pro-police messaging in the midst of Black Lives Matter protests over the summer season. Different allegations have additionally emerged, together with one girl’s declare that Kirkconnell bullied her in highschool for liking Black guys. This has raised comprehensible issues from “Bachelor” followers: How did a girl who engaged in plantation cosplay get solid so far and presumably marry a Black man?
When Lindsay identified to Harrison that the plantation celebration was “not look,” and questioned what it will have represented for her, a Black girl, to go to a celebration like that, he responded, “Is it not look in 2018? Or is it not look in 2021?” (One suspects that giant swaths of this nation had been conscious far earlier than 2018 that the Confederacy, a coalition of states that dedicated treason with the intention to defend the follow of enslaving individuals, was not an incredible factor to admire.)
The antebellum-themed celebration in query was an “Outdated South” ball, a celebration held yearly by many chapters of Kappa Alpha, a fraternity that lengthy thought of Accomplice common Robert E. Lee to be its “non secular founder.” KA’s nationwide workplace technically banned these occasions in 2016, two years earlier than the one Kirkconnell attended — which, as Lindsay identified, reveals that even the fraternity knew by 2018 that plantation balls are offensive.
The 24-year-old Kirkconnell, a graphic designer from Cumming, Georgia, has been a frontrunner for the reason that first evening, when she reacted tearfully to James’ prayer. On their one-on-one date, which aired Feb. 1, she advised James she was falling in love with him, and he reciprocated — a telling second on a present the place the lead sometimes avoids overt declarations of their emotions till the ultimate days.
However rumors and revelations about her previous habits have been swirling for simply as lengthy. The emergence of images of Kirkconnell on the Outdated South ball have solely fueled criticism of Kirkconnell and the present, each for placing the primary Black Bachelor within the place of courting somebody with doubtlessly racist views and for failing to handle the controversy publicly.
At the least till now. Although Kirkconnell has not but made any assertion, Chris Harrison, because the host and an government producer of the franchise, is its most seen consultant. By happening the file to beseech the viewers to have “grace” for her and to attend patiently till she’s prepared to talk earlier than casting judgment, and to slam her critics because the “woke police,” he’s despatched a really clear sign that “The Bachelor” will help white contestants over individuals of colour who’re damage by their racist habits.
By citing the “woke police,” Harrison is invoking a standard cudgel utilized by white individuals who search to sidestep accountability, and insisting that the actual hurt is finished by those that dare to voice their frustrations with a franchise that appears unable to state unequivocally that white supremacy has no place in it.
The franchise’s historical past right here is telling. In 2017, throughout Lindsay’s historic run as the primary Black Bachelorette, she was compelled to take care of a contestant, Lee Garrett, who had posted racist feedback on his social media and who was despatched house after he stirred up battle with a Black contestant, Kenny King. In 2018, Bachelorette Becca Kufrin ended the present engaged to Garrett Yrigoyen, whose Instagram likes on offensive posts mocking undocumented immigrants and trans individuals kicked up controversy because the season aired. Kufrin stood by him after the present, however their relationship ended this summer season, after Yrigoyen posted “Blue Lives Matter” memes throughout nationwide Black Lives Matter protests over police killings of Black individuals.
Harrison’s phrases show him to be totally incompetent and unprepared to be the spokesperson for a franchise that has expressed curiosity in doing higher in the case of racial range.
In different phrases, in 2018 — an period which Harrison claimed to Lindsay is thus far previously it will be unfair to evaluate it by way of the lens of 2021 — the present itself was already grappling with the results of white contestants’ racism on the viewers and Black solid members. The beginning line continues to maneuver: White persons are all the time permitted to begin every day with a clean slate, with any previous actions excused as a result of ignorance of the period. It’s a daring transfer to do that maneuver with habits from 2018, two years after Donald Trump’s election and 5 years after the Black Lives Matter motion first started in earnest.
Not solely do Harrison’s phrases show him to be totally incompetent and unprepared to be the spokesperson for a franchise that has expressed curiosity in doing higher in the case of racial range, however in addition they positioned Lindsay into the undesirable place of both excusing Kirkconnell’s habits alongside Harrison, or being combative on her personal. Harrison repeatedly emphasised that he enjoys discussing these subjects with Lindsay due to their private relationship, a line which successfully draped him in her implied approval. Simply final summer season, Lindsay mentioned that she was contemplating severing ties with the franchise altogether if it didn’t do higher. In return for her appreciable efforts on behalf of the present — together with co-hosting a preferred podcast, “Bachelor Blissful Hour” — she has been repaid by getting used as cowl. (Not by the way, Harrison’s interview along with her additionally did little in the best way of serving to James or Kirkconnell — particularly in the event that they do find yourself collectively.)
The present and its government workforce, together with Harrison, have been saying for years that they will “do higher.” In October, Harrison advised Insider that he believed it was key for the franchise to “take step one” by admitting that racial range has been an issue for the franchise.
“Then you possibly can take the second step,” he added, “which is, OK, what will we do about this? What motion can we take?”
One essential transfer could be making a tradition of accountability for white workers and solid members, and actively defending Black and brown viewers and contestants from racism. As a substitute, the franchise continues to attempt to solid individuals of colour whereas perpetuating an surroundings during which racism is excused, ignored — and even tacitly supported. If Harrison is making an attempt to determine what motion he can take, he may begin there.
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