Graphic by Dakota Cox

Racial ignorance and a failed relationship

The Bachelor faces yet another rough ending
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The Bachelor this season was full of drama and controversy but not a proposal in sight.

The Bachelor is a reality TV show that revolves around one man who is looking for love among 30 romantic interests who ultimately wants to get engaged by the end.

This season’s bachelor was Matt James, 29, a person of color who even though has never been on the show was past contestant Tyler Cameron’s best friend.

Choosing James was the first time ever choosing a bachelor of color. They have had one person as The Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsey in 2017 who was the first African-American chosen for that role.

This season was history making by showcasing a biracial bachelor. The results however, did not exactly end in a happily ever after. Every season, the host, Chris Harrison, says it’s “the most dramatic season ever.” But this season was filled with more drama than anyone could ever have imagined.

After leaving the show with Georgia native, Rachael Kirkconnell, who received James’ final rose, James called it off and broke up with her after some controversial photos of her resurfaced.

Aliyah Khan is an HSU alumna who graduated in 2020. Being a person of color watching The Bachelor, she had strong opinions against this season specifically.

“I think it’s great to have people of color on The Bachelor because the past has been quite, white,” Khan said.

The photos of Kirkconnell showed her at a party in college with friends wearing a dress that represented the period of time before slaves were freed. It was also discovered that she liked racist photos on Instagram including one showing two Caucasian women posing in front of a Confederate flag.

“I think Rachael Kirkconnel was old enough to know what she was doing was wrong at the time,” Khan said. “Considering it was only just in 2018 and Matt still had to explain why it was so horrible.”

Khan believes growth is possible in everyone. Even though she did not agree with Kirkconnell’s actions, she is hoping she learns from this.

“I sure hope Rachael educates herself,” Khan said. “It’s the best way to acknowledge the past and move forward correctly and continuously learn and think about others when you make decisions.”

Chelan Rooney is an HSU alumna who graduated in 2019. She was never a big fan of Kirkconnell and was really rooting for Michelle, the runner up.

“I personally did not like Rachael,” Rooney said. “I felt like she was fake and was just on the show to gain attention and for the fame. It looked like there was no connection between her and Matt, but apparently it was just one that wasn’t obvious.”

Rooney was not surprised there was controversy with racial tensions on the first ever Bachelor with a person of color and was not surprised it involved Kirkconnell.

“I think the after the final rose episode was held perfectly and I’m happy they all addressed the controversy,” Rooney said. “Whether Rachael was being genuine or not, I don’t know, but I think it was awesome how they addressed her.”

After watching an entire season of James and Kirkconnell falling in love with each other, Rooney believes Matt did the right thing.

“I think Matt made the right decision breaking up with her,” Rooney said. “If he stayed with her, there would be no lesson to learn and he would forever struggle with doubts.”

Jasmine Masterson is an elementary education major in her last year at HSU. She has been watching the series for years.

“I feel like looking back on the situation, what she did looked bad, but at that time in the South, it was a pretty normal event,” Masterson said. “So I don’t think that Rachael did those things with bad intentions. I just don’t think that she knew any better. I’m sure now that she knows and understands she will hopefully not make those same choices again.”

Along with Kirkconnell’s controversy, Harrison was interviewed to discuss the issues. He was seen defending her actions which led The Bachelor franchise to fire him from hosting next season.

“I’m not sure how I feel about the whole Chris Harrison deal,” Rooney said. “I think it’s heartbreaking that he’s not going to be on the show since he was the face of it since the beginning, but I also think weeding out celebrities from the industry that are ignorant is very important in order to make a change. Allowing something like this to happen with no repercussions is a slippery slope.”

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