Chris Harrison’s final rose?

Jessie Castellano, Contributing Writer

After many years of hosting the ABC hit series “The Bachelor,” as well as its many spinoffs, Chris Harrison has stepped down due to a number of racist statements that have come to light in the past week. The controversy began when Rachel Kirkconnell, a frontrunner in this season’s “The Bachelor,” was reportedly photographed at a Southern-plantation-themed frat formal back in 2018; nearly three years later, as bachelor Matt James’s interest in her increased on the show, the picture was released and the show’s fanbase was in uproar. Mistakenly, Harrison decided it his place to advocate for Kirkconnell. Consequently, the long-time host has decided to step down for some time as a direct result of his remarks. Will Harrison be forgiven and welcomed back to the cast? Celebrities often make mistakes concerning race and politics; sometimes they are forgiven, but in other instances, the “cancel culture” particular to the modern media ecosystem ends their careers. Bachelor Nation fans have the final word here, and most would probably say this was not the time or place for Harrison to speak on Kirkconnell’s behalf.

Over the years, the Bachelor has been critiques by detractors for its inadvertent racism, embodied most soundly in the racial homogeneity of its contestants — each of its 25 seasons has featured a nearly all-white cast. However, after 29-year old former football star Matt James took up the mantle of Bachelor this season, many fans expressed excitement about James’s status as the first Black Bachelor.

Earlier milestones for the media franchise include Rachel Lindsay, the first Black female lead, who appeared in season 13 of “The Bachelorette.” Now, she co-hosts a Bachelor branded podcast, which emphasizes and tries to correct the show’s race problems, in addition to her own podcast called “Higher Learning.” The franchise’s implicit racism has ultimately prompted her to cut ties with the ABC show after her contract expired. Lindsay states that she is happy to have found love on the show, but she “wanted to be representative as a Black woman to this audience” and “pave the way for more people to have this opportunity.” It’s apparent that, as a black woman who has experienced the competition “The Bachelor,” there must be something wrong with the system for her to cut ties from the network on those grounds.

Last week, Harrison joined Lindsay on her podcast, where they discussed the details of the accusations brought against Kirkconnell. Harrison challenged Lindsay by suggesting that the party Kirkconnell attended in 2018 was socially acceptable at the time and in 2021 it is now “not a good look.” He also mentioned the idea of the “woke police,” used against the Black Lives Matter movement earlier this year.

By pleading his case that Kirkconnell was doing nothing wrong by attending that party and dressing up for the occasion, Harrison dug himself into a deep hole from which it will be difficult to extricate. As most public figures who create controversy do, Harrison has released public statements apologizing and promising that he will do all he can to inform himself on current racial issues.

In the meantime, the Bachelor Nation will just have to wait and see what happens with Harrison’s role on the show; for now, he has upset many people and must be held accountable for his words. The only thing we are left to wonder now is if Harrison has officially given out his final rose.

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