'Bachelor' Matt James confronts Rachael Kirkconnell over the racial ignorance that ended their relationship

Monday was a wild night for Bachelor Nation as the finale of The Bachelor did not end in an engagement. The episode started with Matt James having second thoughts about proposing to either Michelle Young or Rachael Kirkconnell. Matt ended up telling Michelle that he was having doubts and that he didn't think he "could get there" with her. Matt left Michelle upset and in tears in her room. "My objective tonight wasn't to hurt Michelle," Matt said, "It's to be honest with her, and I owe her that."

Matt was immediately blasted on Twitter for his decision.

Matt continued to struggle with the idea of proposing to someone at the end. So even though he picked out a ring with Neil Lane, he didn't get down on one knee in front of Rachael. Standing together, holding hands, Matt told her, "I can't propose to you today. But that doesn't mean I want to lose you." So the season ended with the two in a seemingly happy relationship and fans were definitely not excited about Matt choosing Rachael.

However, during The Bachelor: After the Final Rose, hosted by Emmanuel Acho due to Chris Harrison’s departure over racially insensitive comments made while defending Rachael, we learned that things had changed.

Matt revealed he ended the relationship after photos emerged of Rachael attending an Antebellum-themed party in 2018. Matt explained that, at first, he tried to ignore it. "I dismissed them as rumors, because that's what they were to me," Matt told Emmanuel. "You hear things that are heartbreaking ... and you just pray they're not true. And then, when you find out that they are ... it just makes you question everything."

Matt was then able to confront Rachael and explain why he ended their relationship.

“When I questioned our relationship, it was in the context of you not fully understanding my blackness and what it means to be a Black man in America,” Matt told Rachael. “It broke my heart, because this is the last conversation I thought we'd be having. I didn't sign up to have this conversation.”

Rachael was contrite throughout the special and claimed she was trying to become more racially aware. She also admitted that her errors came from a place of ignorance not maliciousness. When asked about her photos from the party, Rachael said, “I see someone who was living in this ignorance without even, like, thinking about who it would be hurting.”

While Rachael said she is committed to educating herself, Matt insisted that this was something she was going to have to do on her own.

“I had to take a step back for you to put in that work that you outlined that you needed to do, and that's something that you gotta do on your own, and that's why we can't be in a relationship,” said Matt. “I don't want to be emotionally responsible for those tears, 'cause it's like, the work and the reconciliation that needs to be done is work that I can't do for you.”

Needless to say, Bachelor Nation had some thoughts on this conversation as well.

But the real star of the show seemed to be Acho. The former NFL linebacker was well received by viewers on social media, and may possibly find a more permanent hosting role in the franchise.

The Bachelor aired Monday night at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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