I opted out of this historic season of “The Bachelor.” Like many of us, I had a hunch that Matt James, the first Black Bachelor, was going to choose a white woman. And personally, I wasn’t invested in watching Black women and women of color vie for James’ affections only for him to choose a white woman in the end.
But my sister and mother did watch. And because I’m nosy, I had them keep posted on updates, just in case James decided to prove me wrong.
What happened though was much more complicated than I originally assumed. Black women did make it quite far in the contest. But ultimately, it was clear that James was intent on being with one woman, Rachael Kirkconnell.
That was until images of her at an antebellum party resurfaced online. And during the reunion special, “After the Final Rose,” James revealed that he was stepping away from Kirkconnell because of those photos and other comments she’d made, according to a recent interview with PEOPLE, the two are back on.
After they were recently spotted together in Los Angeles and in New York City, James said, “I’ve seen Rachael a handful of times. I’m not pursuing any relationships right now outside of that. I said I was going to focus on my relationship with her and that means focusing on it.”
When asked if he felt that Kirkconnell was doing the work she said she would to educate herself about racism, James said, “that’s something you could talk to her about. A lot of what I’m focused on right now is the work that I’m doing in the community and with the [marathon] training.”
This past February, Kirkconnell apologized for photos from a 2018 college party and promised to “continue to learn how to be antiracist.”
While James acknowledged that Rachael needed to do this work, he also suggested that she was capable of doing it.
In the future, James shared that he wants to continue to be a voice in his community, as he believes he has been in the past several months as “The Bachelor” aired on national television.
“Just being at the center of meaningful conversations, that’s what I’m looking to do. I really enjoyed the conversations I had over the past few months and I think it’d be a lot of fun to be a voice on important issues. That’s where I see my future and where I’m pursuing opportunities.”