'The Bachelor' star Matt James: I never asked Rachael Kirkconnell her thoughts about biracial relationships or raising biracial children before I picked her
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/16/2021
The Bachelor star Matt James says he never asked Rachael Kirkconnell or his other white bachelorettes their thoughts about being in a biracial relationship or raising biracial children before he gave Rachael his final rose and only had those conversations with some of his bachelorettes of color -- and that's a decision that, in hindsight, he now regrets.
Matt announced on The Bachelor: After the Final Rose on Monday night that he had decided to break up with his Season 25 winner, Rachael, shortly after she issued a public apology on February 11 for the racially-ignorant and racially-insensitive actions in her past.
Matt claimed Rachael initially didn't understand why her antebellum/plantation-themed photos at an Old South party in 2018 were "problematic" for him and their relationship and so he came to the conclusion Rachael simply didn't understand his life or perspective as Black man in America.
During a Tuesday appearance on Good Morning America, co-host Michael Strahan therefore asked Matt, "You talked about the moment you realized you had to break up with Rachael, you were thinking about what it would mean for your future together."
"Before these photos came to light," Michael continued, "had you ever had a conversation about what it would be like or mean to be in a biracial relationship and about raising kids together?"
Matt -- who, as far of The Bachelor's format, got to spend an entire night off-camera with Rachael during their Fantasy Suite date that cast members frequently cite as providing an important forum for intimate conversations they aren't comfortable having on-camera -- replied, "I think that a lot of the time spent during filming and having those conversations were amongst the other women of color."
"And I think that we could've had those conversations amongst the white women who were there as well. But hindsight is 20/20. I wish I would have asked more clarifying questions."
Given Matt had no knowledge of Rachael's controversial past during filming and those racially-charged revelations resulted in him eventually dumping the bachelorette, Michael asked Matt whether he now feels he had "missed out on exploring relationships with other women."
Matt explained, "I would say that the conversations that have come from everything that's taken place are more important than anything I could have left with."
"And if that means that I leave under the circumstances that I left with, then so be it," Matt added.
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Rachael's racism controversy also includes the bachelorette having dressed in Native-American costume and liking a photo of two girls standing in front of the Confederate flag.
In addition, Rachael was accused of bullying a girl in high school for dating a Black guy.
However, Matt noted that he thinks Rachael "is a good person" at her core.
"Everything that she outlined in her apology and her statement, I'm looking forward to seeing her do, because I know she's capable of it," Matt said, referring to how Rachael has promised to educate herself on racism in society and grow as an individual.
Matt also acknowledged on After the Final Rose he truly cares about Rachael andhis feelings for her won't go away overnight.
Michael therefore asked Matt on GMA if the door is open to potentially reconcile with Rachael down the road.
"I think there's a lot of work that needs to be done before I can think about being in a relationship with anybody," Matt admitted.
"I need time to process everything that's going on and I want to respect Rachael and what she's got to do as well."
Although Matt starred as the first Black Bachelor in 25 seasons and two decades on the air during a time of racial injustice protests across America and a lack of diversity in The Bachelor franchise -- both on-camera and behind the scenes -- Matt said he's glad he rose to the challenge.
"I felt like the position that I stepped into was to take on the weight of everything that was going on in the country at that time frame regarding social justice and everything going on in the franchise surrounding diversity and inclusion," Matt told host Emmanuel Acho on After the Final Rose.
"[But] I don't regret the experience at all because I was able to learn a lot about myself through getting to meet so many wonderful women who were there for love."
Matt also said the dating process pushed him to open his heart and mind like never before.
"I'm just conditioned to feel like sharing any type of emotion is weakness, and this experience really helped me unlearn that," Matt explained.
"It was the first time I wasn't afraid to cry; I wasn't afraid to show emotion. And being able to tell somebody that you love them, it was liberating."
And Rachael also shared on After the Final Rose how she's grateful and thankful for every moment she got to spend with Matt.
Rachael, who expressed remorse and regret over her past behavior now that she understands her wrongdoing, confessed she's still in love with Matt and he'll always have a big piece of her heart.