Chris Harrison, host of “The Bachelor,” has announced he will be taking a temporary leave from the show after he defended one of his contestants against cancel culture — causing them to target him.
As Faith Wire reports, the incident started when Harrison addressed contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s decision to attend a now-controversial party.
The party was “antebellum-themed,” which has become outdated as racial sensitivity has been given more attention in recent years, so people criticized Kirkconnell’s choice to attend.
During an interview with “Extra” host Rachel Lindsay, Harrison responded by saying people should extend “a little understanding” and “a little compassion” towards the contestant.
“I have seen some stuff online, again, this judge, jury, executioner thing, where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart, and diving into her and her parents’ voting record,” he said. “It’s unbelievably alarming to watch this. I’m not defending [Kirkconnell]. I just know that — I don’t know — 50 million people [attended parties like] that in 2018.”
Harrison then mentioned the “woke police.”
“I am not the woke police,” he continued. “There’s plenty of people — plenty of people — who will do that for us in this world right now. I don’t know, do you go tear all those places [plantations] down and tear up the dirt and dig deep enough that it erases it? I don’t know.”
When you see San Francisco erasing Lincoln and erasing Washington and erasing people [from the names of public schools] because of what they stood for 180 years ago, I don’t know, is that right? Is that wrong? The woke police is out there and this poor girl Rachael, who has just been thrown to the lions — I don’t know how you are equipped, when you have never done this before, to be woke enough, to be eloquent enough, to be ready to handle this.
We don’t give people time to have some perspective, to try and drink this in for a second.
Watch the segment below:
Then came the backlash.
As Faith Wire reports, a petition was made online for Harrison to be removed from the show:
Harrison’s comments did not sit well with some fans and social media users, who started a Change.org petition to have the ABC host removed from “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette.” The petition stated Harrison needs to go because he “has a history of misogyny and racist behavior and racist-sympathizing behavior.
It has garnered more than 33,000 signatures so far.
Emma Gray, a reporter for the progressive HuffPost, said Harrison “expresses more empathy for people who romanticize the Confederacy than people who are harmed by white supremacy.”
She said watching the interview between Harrison and Lindsay left her “shaking with rage,” again accusing the host of “romanticizing slave plantations and Confederate imagery.”
We can leave grace and space for learning while still demanding accountability. I feel like @chrisbharrison expresses more empathy for people who romanticize the confederacy than people who are harmed by white supremacy in this clip. So disappointing. https://t.co/Lw2BabkLpb
— Emma Gray (@emmaladyrose) February 10, 2021
So, Harrison announced his leave of absence, on his own terms, in a statement this week.
“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 said in the statement, which was shared on Twitter. “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 a first-hand understanding of, and humbly thank the members of Bachelor Nation who have reached out to me to hold me accountable,” he added. “I promise to do better.”
— Chris Harrison (@chrisbharrison) February 11, 2021
According to the report, Kirkconnell followed suit and ultimately gave an apology for her choice to attend the party.
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 anti-racist.
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. 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.