Matt James releases statement on racism in Bachelor Nation right before 'hometowns' episode

He addressed both Rachael Kirkconnell and Chris Harrison.
Published February 23, 2021 9:12 a.m. EST

All the pats on the back The Bachelor gave itself for having the first Black Bachelor and the most diverse house of contestants this year don’t compare to the damage the franchise has done to the people it uses for content, and Matt James is not happy. Right before last night’s "hometowns" episode aired, he released a statement on Instagram, saying The Bachelor needs to change because it has “fallen short” of its responsibility to its participants and fans. 

The powerful statement points out how painful it has been for him to witness “in real time” the hurtful Chris Harrison exchange with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, and watch current contestant Rachael KirkConnell’s previous racist photos emerge in the media. 

He says the racism that has mired this season and previous ones “has also pushed me to reevaluate and process what my experience on The Bachelor represents.” 

We don’t want to give away any spoilers for what hasn’t aired yet, but there have been rumours for weeks now surrounding who Matt ultimately chooses this season, and many think this statement is a coded message suggesting that he and that particular contestant have broken up because of the racism that has doused this season. 

While we won’t know for sure until the finale airs in two weeks (next week is “The Women Tell All” and we CANNOT WAIT), what we do know for sure is that last night’s episode set tongues wagging, and not for sexy, romantic reasons either.

It was hometowns this week, and of course, just like in Tayshia’s season, the families had to bring the hometowns to The Bachelor resort due to travel restrictions during the pandemic. Matt was visibly nervous to meet four inquiring families, but listen, Matt, as long as you never have to see Pete’s mom Barb crying “bring her home to us!” we’re pretty sure any hometown you get is going to be amazing.

And most of them were. First up was Michelle’s family, and Twitter quickly decided that her father Ephraim was the sweetest man on the planet and needed to be protected at all costs. It also needs to be mentioned that she and Matt ~accidentally~ wore matching sweaters. Coordinated by producers? Yes. Totally adorable? Also, yes. 

Okay, one down, not too shabby. 

Next up, Rachael’s hometown, where, as we saw in last week’s preview, they went skydiving and she ended up slamming hard into the ground upon landing. Rachael was fine obviously, just some scrapes, bruises, and a lot of grass in her mouth, but it set a tone.

As Rachael and Matt arrived to meet her family (including her father who ended up grilling both of them on their feelings), Bachelor Nation drew some interesting parallels between this hometown Jordan Peele’s smash hit movie Get Out. (ICYMI: it was Rachael’s previous racist photographs, including one taken at an antebellum-themed party, resurfacing that started this most recent conversation about racism in Bachelor Nation).

Get Out even became a trending topic last night in conjunction with The Bachelor.

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Still, after two hometowns, Matt seemed unphased and deeply connected to both Michelle and Rachael. Next was Bri’s hometown, where her lovely young mother (if you remember from earlier, we learned Bri’s mom gave birth to her when she was only 13 years old) wowed Bachelor Nation with her flawless skin (seriously, what serum is it? What face mask? WE NEED ANSWERS) and her take-no-prisoners attitude. 

As soon as Matt and Bri sat down, mom over here was like “We know what Matt’s been doing! Dating other women!” Colour us charmed.

Okay, a bit tense, but another incredible hometown date in the books. The final date was Canadian Serena’s time to shine! From Markham, Ontario, she made sure Matt passed his crash course in everything poutine-related. Poor guy, he didn’t know his toboggans from his toques! But Canadian Bachelor Nation was LIVING for this moment.

But of course, as things do in Bachelor Nation, the situation went sideways when Serena had one-on-one chats with her sister and then her mom who both questioned if she was truly feeling what she needs to in order to get engaged. Turns out Serena suffered a really bad breakup at one point in her life, and it has left her with wounds. 

See, this is why we were upset all that bullying was eating up all the screen time early on! These women have really interesting and complicated backgrounds and stories that we never got to truly explore. Maybe if Matt hadn’t had to deal with expelling Mean Girls from the premises, he would have known earlier that Serena didn’t have her heart in it.

The next day, before the rose ceremony, Matt spoke with Serena where she flat out told him that he wasn’t “her person.” He sat there stunned for a few moments, his heart visibly breaking, and in a strange twist of events, she walked him out. 

There goes our dream of a Canadian wedding for Matt. The episode ended with Matt going ahead with the rose ceremony, even though all three of the remaining ladies received one (so it was more symbolic than anything with Matt telling them if they accept this rose, this means they are on board with marriage). 

Next week’s preview indicates that we might suffer a break in the narrative while we watch the most anticipated part of the season – “The Women Tell All” special. Queen Victoria is back to face the music, and so is Matt (with a massive quarantine beard) to confront the women head-on. Epic television awaits!

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