Controversial "Bachelor" contestant Rachael Kirkconnell has issued an apology, after the reality show's host Chris Harrison expressed regret for previously coming to her defense.
Kirkconnell, who is a Season 25 frontrunner currently dating the franchise's first Black bachelor Matt James, has been criticized for liking Confederate flag-related TikToks and, more recently, for a resurfaced photo that appears to show her attending a plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018.
In a statement on her Instagram Thursday, Kirkconnell apologized for her past actions, which she condemned as "offensive and racist."
"I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist," she wrote. "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."
She urged her followers to "learn from my mistakes" and to "use them as a teachable moment." She also said she "will continue to learn how to be antiracist" and that "it's important to speak up in the moment and not after you're called out."
"I deserve to be held accountable for my actions," she continued. "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."
"To my Bachelor Nation family -- I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology," he said. "I have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday I took a stance on topics about which I should have been better informed.
He continued, "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. What I now realize I have done is cause harm for wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that I am so deeply sorry."
He also apologized to Rachel Lindsay, of "The Bachelorette" Season 13, for "not listening to her better on a topic she has a first-hand understanding of" and thanked the members of Bachelor Nation who have reached out to "hold me accountable."
"I promise to do better," he concluded.
In an interview earlier this week, Harrison said, "we all need to have a little grace," when he was asked about the controversy surrounding Kirkconnell.
"I have seen some stuff online – again, this judge, jury, executioner thing, where people are just tearing this girl's life apart," he added. "Until I actually hear this woman actually have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this?"
James addressed the controversy surrounding Kirkconnell in an interview with Entertainment Tonight in early February, saying, "Rumors are dark and nasty and can ruin people's lives. So I would give people the benefit of the doubt, and hopefully she will have her time to speak on that."
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Contributing: Charles Trepany