Rachel Lindsay on Chris Harrison Apologizing, 'Stepping Aside' from Bachelor Franchise: 'It's a Little Tough for Me'

Harrison came under fire after an interview with Lindsay where he defended current contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s attendance at an antebellum plantation-themed formal.

Rachel Lindsay has had a long and complicated relationship with the “Bachelor” franchise, and it seemed to come to a head after her most recent interview with host Chris Harrison.

Bachelor Nation’s first Black Bachelorette asked Harrison about racist photos that had emerged of current contestant Rachael Kirkconnell attending an antebellum plantation-themed formal event and, let’s just say, his response did not go over well … with Lindsay, the fans, producers and eventually Harrison himself.

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It was enough that Lindsay declared that she would be severing all ties with the franchise after her contract period was up, fed up with its problematic relationship with representation and race stemming back years and years and years.

However, her tone appears to have softened somewhat after Harrison penned two separate apologies, announcing that he would be “stepping away” from the franchise and making an effort to step back and learn.

“I’m happy to see that he’s getting education to be more productive and more profound in his level of understanding in regards to this issue,” Lindsay told Hollywood Life on Monday. “I’m happy to hear that, and I’ll be one of the many that’s going to sit back and wait and see what happens with all of this.”

In particular, she said she was happy to see a second, deeper apology from Harrison. “Good. Continue to apologize,” she said. “Continue to recognize the wrong in the situation,” saying that it is “great” if Harrison is “going to hold himself accountable.”

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She also told the outlet that Harrison reached out to her personally after their interview to apologize, which she also appreciated. She appears to be tentatively rooting for him to find his way through this controversy the right way.

“It’s more than reading. It’s more than watching a documentary,” she said. “It’s really getting [in] there with people who have gone through these experiences, people who have been there, who can explain things for you, getting out in the community and seeing what’s going on, seeing the impact that racism has had on our society.”

Even with its most recent Bachelorette and Bachelor both being black — including the current Bachelor (Matt James) courting Kirkconnell — many have wondered if its more a knee-jerk reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement rather than a genuine, organic attempt to diversify.

Harrison’s comments aren’t helping that perception, trying to find a way to defend Kirkconnell even as Lindsay argued that a plantation-themed party is inherently racist just by its very existence, asking him to consider what she would represent were she to show up there.

Harrison pushed back, trying to argue that 2021 is a different time than 2018 when Kirkconnell attended, arguing that she deserved “compassion,” later arguing that he was trying to allow Kirkconnell the space to talk herself. When she did, she apologized, saying that her “ignorance was racism” and vowing to do better.

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Harrison ultimately said the same thing across two separate apologies. In the second, he declared his intention to step aside from the franchise for an undetermined span of time, specifically stating that he would not be present at the upcoming “After the Final Rose” show for Matt’s season.

“To the Black community, to the BIPOC community: I am so sorry.” Harrison wrote in his second apology on Saturday. “My words were harmful. I am listening, and I truly apologize for my ignorance and any pain it caused you,” Harrison wrote.

“I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the people from these communities who I’ve had enlightening conversations with over the past few days, and I am so grateful to those who have reached out to help me on my path to anti-racism.”

“This historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions,” wrote Harrison. “To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special.”

As for Lindsay, while she has not walked back her claims to step away from the franchise in the wake of Harrison’s initial comments, she has softened. “I’m excited to see what happens next,” she said. “I’m glad he’s taking the steps to move forward.”

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But she’s not quite ready to accept his apology and move forward herself, telling “Extra” on Monday, “I’m going to need that time and space and compassion that he referenced to really accept the apology, because [he wasn’t] apologetic at first. I’m not saying I can’t get there, it’s just, initially, it’s a little tough for me.”

“Where do we go from here as a franchise? It’s hard to say,” said Lindsay. “Chris has stepped aside, which I think is the right decision.” But she’s not sure what should happen next.

“How do you [continue with him as host] when people in Bachelor Nation are upset, the contestants of this very show, the leads of the show?” she asked. “How does he go on to represent the franchise when people were so upset by what they saw in that interview?”

SPOILER WARNING: Kirkconnell is among Matt James’ Final Four, determined in Monday’s episode. Insiders have suggested she may well become the winner of his season. Should that happen, she should definitely not be let off the hook for her past, ignorance or no.

ABC has not announced who will step in for Harrison.

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