On Monday, Feb. 22, The Bachelor star took to Instagram and didn't hold back when addressing some of the headlines making news within the ABC reality show franchise.
"The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life, and while there are several episodes left of the season, it is important that I take the time to address the troubling information that has come to light since we wrapped filming, including the incredibly disappointing photos of Rachael Kirkconnell and the interview between Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison," he began. "The reality is that I'm learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly."
"Chris' failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explaining the racist history of the Antebellum South, a painful history that every American should understand intimately, was troubling and painful to watch," Matt continued. "As Black people and allies immediately knew and understood, it was a clear reflection of a much larger issue that The Bachelor franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years."
Back on Feb. 13, Chris announced he was "stepping aside" from The Bachelor franchise after he came under fire for defending the controversy surrounding Rachael's alleged social media behavior.
The Bachelor contestant, who is still in the running to win over Matt's heart, raised eyebrows after photos from her college days resurfaced on Reddit. In the images, which E! News hasn't verified, Rachael was seen attending a fraternity formal in 2018, which the Reddit user described as an "Antebellum plantation themed ball."
She would later apologize in a statement posted on social media. "At one point, I didn't recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn't excuse them," Rachael wrote on Feb. 11. "My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist."
Ultimately, members of Bachelor Nation have spoken out and sparked a conversation about race and diversity in the franchise. In fact, Bachelor contestants from Matt's own season came together to release a statement.
"We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism," the ladies shared. "Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals. These experiences are not to be exploited or tokenized."
According to Matt, recent weeks have caused him to reflect on his journey in finding love within the franchise. As he explained on Instagram, "It has also pushed me to reevaluate and process what my experience on The Bachelor represents, not just for me, but for all of the contestants of color, especially the Black contestants of this season and seasons past, and for you, the viewers at home."
Matt added, "I will continue to process this experience, and you will hear more from me in the end. My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better."
Sign up for our weekly Bachelor Beat newsletter to get all of your Bachelor Nation updates!