Not up to date on the Rachael Bachelor racism drama? Let us fill you in. Rachael—a 24-year-old graphic designer from Cumming, Georgia, and a contestant on season 25 of The Bachelor with Matt James—is under fire for past behavior that led fans to believe that she’s a racist.

Rachael is one of 32 women who met Matt, a 29-year-old real estate agent from Raleigh, North Carolina, on the premiere of The Bachelor season 25 in January 2021. Matt is also the first Black Bachelor in the Bachelor franchise’s 15-plus-year history. Overall, he’s the third Black lead after season 13 Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay and season 16 Bachelorette Tayshia Adams.”It’s an honor,” Matt told Good Morning America in June 2020 after he was announced as the season 25 Bachelor. “I’m just going to lean into myself and how my mom raised me and hopefully when people invite me into their homes on Monday night they’re going to see that I’m not much different from them and they see that diverse love stories are beautiful.”

There’s no doubt that Matt’s Bachelor season is historic, which makes Rachael’s Bachelor racism drama that much more infuriating given who may be her future husband. Ahead is what we know about Rachael’s Bachelor racism controversy and what stars like Matt and Chris Harrison think about it.

Why do fans think Rachael from The Bachelor is racist?

After The Bachelor season 25 premiere, TikTok user @maddyybierster, a former high school classmate of Rachael’s, posted a video in which she claimed that Rachael bullied her for dating Black men. “girlieee, remember when you bullied me in high school for liking black guys???” Maddy wrote alongside a video of Rachael and Matt. After the video went viral, Maddy shared another video of screenshots of DMs from other women who had similar experiences with Rachael when it came to dating Black men.

The scandal continued when TikTok user @feministmama posted her own video, in which she exposed Rachael for liking racist social media posts and associating herself with controversial groups.The user shared three social media screenshots that Rachael liked: one of two women in front of a Confederate flag, one of three women dressed in sombreros, ponchos and mustaches, and one of a woman in a “Make America Great Again” hat. The user also claimed that Rachael hasn’t voted in the past four general elections, sharing a screenshot of her voting history. @Feministmama also shared screenshots of Rachael‘s parents supporting Donald Trump and other Republican politicians. According to the screenshots, her father donated to WinRed, a fundraising platform that supported Trump in the 2020 Presidential Election.

@maddyybiersterBECAUSE I REMEMBER ##BACHELO ##bachelornationabc ##BachelorReady ##bachelor ##bachelorgr ##mattjames ##fyp♬ Laughing Hard – Tik Tok
@maddyybiersterplease read each and every one 🙂 #bachelornationabc #BachelorReady #bachelor #fyp #IsThisAvailable♬ Bruh – Bruv.
@feministmamaReply to @lovelams ##thebachelor

♬ Quirky – Oleg Kirilkov

Rachael’s old south antebellum party picture

In February 2021, Rachael went viral again after a 2018 photo resurfaced of her at an old south Antebellum-themed party at the University of Georgia. According to The Sun, the party was described as an “Antebellum plantation-themed ball” by Kappa Alpha, a fraternity that has been criticized as racist due to its support of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as a “spiritual leader.” The party was held during the university’s “Old South Week,” which was an event previously held on plantations and used Confederate flags for decoration. The photos showed Rachael and her friends in Antebellum-style dresses as they posed for a group photo. The Sun reported that men who attend “Old South” parties often wear costumes similar to Confederate soldiers and plantation owners. (See the photos here.)

After Rachael came under fire for her attendance at an Antebellum-themed party, Chris Harrison defended her in an interview with Rachel Lindsay (the first Black lead in the Bachelor franchise) on Extra. “We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion,” he said at the time. “Because I have seen some stuff online—this judge, jury, executioner thing where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into, like, her parents, her parents’ voting record…I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet. Until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this? I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago and that’s it.”

when Lindsay noted that the picture was “not a good look,” Harrison asked, “Is it [not] a good look in 2018 or is it not a good look in 2021?” which led Lindsay to respond that Rachael’s photos weren’t a good look ever.

Chris Harrison’s apology

After his defense of Rachael, Harrison was slammed by Bachelor Nation members, who accused him of excusing racism. The backlash led him to apologize on Instagram for not being better informed. “To my Bachelor Nation family — I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology,” he wrote. “I have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday, I took a stance on topics about which I should have been better informed. While I do not speak for Rachael Kirkconnell, my intentions were simply to ask for grace in offering her an opportunity to speak on her own behalf.”

He continued, “What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that I am so deeply sorry. I also apologize to my friend Rachel Lindsay for not listening to her better on a topic she has first hand understanding of, and humbly thank the members of Bachelor Nation who have reached out to me to hold me accountable. I promise to do better.”

Matt James’ response

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight in February 2021, Matt was asked about Rachael’s past social media behavior. He denied that Rachael’s social media posts were reflective of who she is. “I have not spoken to anybody since the show ended, but I would say that you have to be really careful about what you are doing on social media,” he said. “Rumors are dark and nasty and can ruin people’s lives. So I would give people the benefit of the doubt, and hopefully she will have her time to speak on that.”

He continued, “There’s a lot of stuff going around about the women that were involved in the show. I would just give them a chance to kind of have their piece, whether that is someone who was gone night one or someone who went home last night. Everyone has a story, and I would just be receptive to that.” For spoilers about Matt’s Bachelor winner, click here.

The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC. Here’s how to watch it for free.

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