The Bachelor's Rachael Kirkconnell feels 'devastated & hopeless' over antebellum photo & is NOT racist, her mom insists
RACHAEL Kirkconnell has been left “heartbroken and devastated” over the antebellum photo scandal and is not a racist, her mom has insisted in an exclusive interview.
Graphic designer Rachael, 24, is considered a favorite to win over Matt James, the hit ABC dating show’s first ever African-American Bachelor, but has been rocked by claims of racism which she apologized for in a statement.
Now, in an exclusive interview with The Sun, her mom Kim Kirkconnell has passionately leapt to her daughter's defense, saying, “No one should have to go through what she has been through.”
She claimed that the controversial party where she was pictured was actually billed as a "Southern Belle" rather than an Old South Antebellum party.
Kim also said Rachael actually has Latina roots through her dad's side, and vocally supported Black Lives Matter before being casted on the show.
She also denied claims that Rachael bullied Maddy Bierster, a TikTok user who accused the reality star of picking on her at high school for "liking black guys" – insisting they didn't even go to the same school.
The family are even considering legal action against Maddy for alleged libel and slander.
Kim’s comments come after realtor Matt, 29, said in a statement on Monday that dealing with the fallout of the show’s racism scandal had been “devastating and heartbreaking, to put it bluntly”.
In response, IT professional Kim, 54, said: “We will never be able to understand how he feels about this situation as a black man. We respect his stance on the situation.
"We have seen the devastation and heartbreak this has caused for Rachael.
This isn’t about winning a show. This was about finding love with Matt.
“She wants to be able to prove to him that she has changed and work with him to fight against injustice.
“This isn’t about winning a show. This was about finding love with Matt.
“If he chooses Rachael, and stands by her, then you know Matt does truly love her.
“If he chooses Rachael, and then leaves her, then it was not meant to be, and there is someone else out there for her.
“Rachael has felt hopeless and frustrated about not being able to address the issue and speak her side.
Rachael has been suffering the consequences.
“We feel that the situation has gotten even more out of hand due to this. She has been suffering the consequences.
“We hope her time will come soon where she will be able to address everything.”
The Bachelor’s race scandal began online shortly after the season 25 premiere on January 4.
TikTok user Maddy Bierster posted a picture of Rachael and Matt with the caption: “Girlieee, remember when you bullied me in high school for liking black guys???”
She followed up the post with messages she claimed to have received from others who had allegedly been bullied by Rachael.
Kim claimed: “Rachael did not bully Maddy Bierster in high school.
“Maddy has committed slander and libel and was served a cease and desist with which she chose not to comply.
“Rachael knew of Maddy Bierster but did not know her on any sort of personal level.
It wasn’t Rachael who did the bullying
“Maddy’s TikTok implied that she went to Rachael’s high school but she didn’t.
“Maddy provides no details of where and when this bullying took place even though we have repeatedly asked her to do so and that is because it never happened.
“I am not saying that Maddy was never bullied in high school, she may have been.
“However, it wasn’t Rachael who did the bullying. We are considering taking legal action.”
Following Maddy’s claims another TikTok user did a deep dive on Rachael and pointed to her family’s support for Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
Defending herself and husband Darrell, Kim said: “I don’t understand how your voting registration supports that you are a racist. I am not in support of Donald Trump’s rhetoric and was horrified by the riot on the capitol.
“Both parties have people of all different races, have members who are not racists and members with racist pasts.”
Pictures also surfaced of Maddy’s best friend who was at the same event Rachael is under fire for attending, which has been described in the press as an Old South antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal.
The event was hosted by the Kappa Alpha Order, a fraternity which claims Confederate commander Robert E. Lee as its spiritual founder.
The word antebellum was never used to describe the event
However Kim claims the party was not announced as antebellum-themed, it was called the Rose Ball, and that Rachael later “disassociated” from Greek life when she realized it had racist undertones.
She said: “The formal was a trip to the beach. Before they left for the beach, they took pictures in a garden wearing Southern Belle dresses.
“The event made no references to the Civil War, the word antebellum was never used to describe the event, no confederate flags were present, and no confederate outfits were worn.
“They did not party on a plantation in the dresses. They took some pictures, changed, and went to the beach.
“Rachael now knows the full extent of the history behind Kappa Alpha and their formal and feels horrible that she hurt people by attending.
“Not long after attending the formal was when she began to acknowledge a lot of problematic and racist behavior within Greek life and chose to disassociate herself.
“She dropped out of her sorority that same year and was disaffiliated for the rest of her time in school because she did not share their views and beliefs and did not want to be a part of it anymore.”
Kim also says that Rachael simply did not “recognize” the portion of the confederate flag in the background of a picture of two girls she liked on Instagram in 2015.
Asked about another photo she liked of three girls dressed as Mexicans, she said: “Rachael is ashamed about liking this photo that was posted by a friend.
“In 2015 she was not yet educated about cultural appropriation and the many forms it takes but she grew to fully understand how hurtful it is to wear someone’s culture as a costume.
“Cultural appropriation was not okay then and it’s not okay now, and she is sorry to every person she offended by liking that photo.”
Kim also explained that Rachael has Latina heritage through her father, whose parents were born in Honduras, and provided screen grabs of Instagram posts that Rachael made in 2020 supporting Black Lives Matter. She pointed out that posts supporting BLM can also be found on Rachael's Instagram page.
She said: “Rachael had already been educating herself on how to be actively anti-racist and took a stand against the injustices that took place over the summer.
“She donated, signed petitions, made the conscious effort to listen and learn, and encouraged other white allies to do the same on her social media.
“This activism even ended some of her lifelong friendships, but standing up for what’s right was more important to her.
“So far there has not been any acknowledgement of her anti-racist efforts.
“Instead, the focus has been on anything that supports the theory that she is a racist.”
Asked about the social media pile on in the wake of the scandal, Kim said: “It has been demoralizing and depressing. Many of us have received threats.
“But mostly I just worry about Rachael, because she has been by far the most devastated by this.
“These are issues that she is very passionate about, and she feels like she let everyone down.”
Rachael is non-judgmental, kind, caring, compassionate, non-confrontational and friendly to everyone
Following the claims of racism made against Rachael, The Bachelor host Chris Harrison jumped to her defence.
He later said he was stepping aside from the show and apologized for his comments.
Asked about Chris’s decision, Kim said: “It was disappointing for many reasons, but it was particularly frustrating because his stance is the exact opposite of how Rachael feels about the situation.
“Although this has been hard on her, she can take some solace in knowing that Chris’s words about her are being used by the franchise to take a step in the right direction, and she stands with and supports the BIPOC within the franchise.”
Describing her daughter’s personality, Kim said: “She is non-judgmental, kind, caring, compassionate, non-confrontational and friendly to everyone she comes across.”
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