BACHELOR contestant Rachael Kirkconnell has come under fire for her social media history, including a photo she posted wearing an antebellum-style dress.
Rachael is originally from Cumming, Georgia, and “is a southern sweetheart with a close-knit family,” according to her Bachelor bio.
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What is the antebellum photo of Rachael Kirkconnell?
Rachael faced backlash earlier this month for attending an “antebellum plantation-themed ball” at Georgia College & State University, thrown by the college fraternity, Kappa Alpha.
Kappa Alpha has been criticized as “racist” due to its embrace of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as its “spiritual leader.”
The Southern fraternity throws their annual bash during “Old South Week” – a popular event that has previously been held on plantations and used Confederate flags for decoration.
Rachael’s cousin Anastasia exclusively spoke to The Sun, insisting she is “not racist” – but admitted the photos are “hard to defend”.
Rachael has been facing death threats since the scandal broke and her parents are in a “terrible mental place”, a source told The Sun.
Why else is Rachael facing backlash?
Rachael has allegedly liked racist social media posts in the past.
One photo that she had liked shows two Caucasian women dressed in hula outfits posing in front of a Confederate flag.
Another displays a trio of ladies proudly posing in traditional Mexican ponchos and sombreros while donning large fake mustaches.
Rachael’s mother has come to her daughter’s defense after TikTok user named Maddy Bierster accused Kirkconnell of bullying her in high school for “liking black guys.”
What is the Antebellum South?
The Antebellum South was a period in the history of the southern United States from the late 18th century until the start of the American Civil War in 1861,
The development of separate northern and southern economies, westward expansion of the nation, and a spirit of reform marked the era.
Wealthy southern planters wielded most of the economic and political power of the country.
During the antebellum years, the “elite class” created their own societal standards “defining ideals of southern white manhood and womanhood and shaping the culture of the south.”
Enslaved African people made up a large portion of the southern population during this time.
Other allegations were also made against Kirkconnell on a Reddit thread.
“She went to another high school,” mom Kim Kirkconnell told @bachelornationscoop, referring to Bierster.
“She made all of this up for your attention. Rachael never bullied that girl for liking black men.”
“It is simply not true; she even changed her story later to say it was Rachael’s friend group but doesn’t say who. She had lots of friends, so it’s difficult to clear something up without facts.
Will she appear on the Women Tell All episode?
Bachelor host Chris Harrison explained that Rachael didn’t make an appearance at the Women Tell All – but insisted she will “have her time to speak”.
He made the admission when former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay confronted him over the controversy surrounding Rachael.
“We will talk about it, on the ‘Woman Tell All’ we do get into it… Rachael was not there so we didn’t get into the Rachael of it all,” he told Extra TV.
He added: “But Rachael will have her time to speak. Hopefully I will be there to have that debate with her and I will push her.
“I don’t think the show needs to speak before Rachael does.”
Chris also urged viewers to show Rachael “a little grace, understanding and compassion”.
“I have seen some stuff online, again, this judge, jury, executioner thing where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart,” he said.
“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 that’s it.”
The longtime host of the franchise came under fire for his comments with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay regarding the “racist” scandal.
Harrison has since stepped down from the Bachelor franchise.
Rachael, who has been a favorite all season, may have missed the Women Tell All as it’s possible she ends up in Matt James’ final three.
What has Matt James said about the controversy?
The Bachelor’s Matt James took to Instagram ahead of the hometowns episode Monday to address the controversy surrounding Kirkconnell and Harrison.
James said it was “troubling to watch” Chris Harrison’s “failure to understand” the racist history of the Antebellum South in his interview with Rachel Lindsay.
“The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life, and while there are several episodes left of the season, it is important that I take the time to address the troubling information that has come to light since we wrapped filming, including the incredibly disappointing photos of Rachael Kirkconnell and the interview between Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison,” James wrote.
“Chris’s failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explaining the racist history of the Antebellum South, a painful history that every American should understand intimately, was troubling and painful to watch.
“As Black people and allies immediately knew and understood, it was a clear reflection of a much larger issue that The Bachelor franchise has fallen short of addressing adequately for years.”
James concluded: “I will continue to process this experience, and you will hear more from me in the end.”
Has Rachael released a statement?
On February 25, Rachael took to Instagram to discuss the controversy in a lengthy video. She previously released a written statement apologizing for her past actions.
The 24-year-old admitted she was “tired” of “not saying anything” through the ongoing outrage.
The Bachelor contestant told viewers, “If you are in my comments or anywhere defending me or telling people that I did nothing wrong or that there is nothing to be hurt or offended about, please stop.
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“That’s not our place to tell people what they can and can’t be offended about. That’s wrong and that’s part of the problem so stop saying I did nothing wrong, that’s not true.
“If you really want to support me then encourage me to do better.”
Kirkconnell added she was “going to post some resources” she used or “planned on using because the learning never stops.” She said she was hesitant in the past to post links or resources because she didn’t “want people thinking it’s performative or not something I really stand by.”