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Rachael Kirkconnell breaks silence on ‘Bachelor’ backlash

“Bachelor” contestant Rachael Kirkconnell has broken her silence following the backlash against her — and the show itself — amid accusations she allegedly engaged with racially insensitive social media posts and was photographed at a plantation-themed party while at college.

“While there have been rumors circulating, there have also been truths that have come to light that I need to address. I hear you, and I’m here to say I was wrong,” she wrote via Instagram on Thursday. “At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them. My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.”

Kirkconnell, 24, continued, “I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended. I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me. I am learning and will continue to learn how to be antiracist, because it’s important to speak up in the moment and not after you’re called out. If you are a person who doesn’t understand the offense in question, I urge you to learn from my mistakes and encourage you to use them as a teachable moment.”

Kirkconnell also noted how her family encouraged her to “have my own views, opinions, and beliefs.”

“As I was thinking about what I wanted to say, I couldn’t help but think about how sick people must be of reading these kinds of statements; how a person didn’t realize the trauma that their actions would inflict on other people. It must get so exhausting. I want to put my energy towards preventing people from making the same offensive mistakes that I made in the first place, and I hope I can prove this to you moving forward,” Kirkconnell stated.

“Racial progress and unity are impossible without (white) accountability, and I deserve to be held accountable for my actions. I will never grow unless I recognize what I have done is wrong,” she concluded. “I don’t think one apology means that I deserve your forgiveness, but rather I hope I can earn your forgiveness through my future actions.”

“Bachelor” host Chris Harrison, 49, also came under fire this week for saying fans should offer Kirkconnell “a little grace, a little understanding” in an interview with “Extra” co-host Rachel Lindsay — the first black “Bachelorette” in franchise history — and subsequently apologized.

Kirkconnell, who is vying for the affections of James, the first black “Bachelor,” is reportedly a frontrunner this season.