It looks like love can’t conquer all in Bachelor Nation.
Following a very romantic conclusion on the Season 25 finale of The Bachelor — where Matt James chose Rachael Kirkconnell to be his girlfriend, but not his bride — those loving feelings came crashing down when The Bachelor: After the Final Rose aired. Matt announced to viewers and 11th-hour interim host Emmanuel Acho that he and Rachael are no longer together.
Matt explained that he broke up with Rachael after controversial photos surfaced of her attending an Antebellum party in 2018. He said the photos were bad enough but what made matters worse is that after she publicly apologized, Rachael still didn’t really understand why people were offended by the images that romanticized the slavery and racism of the pre-Civil War south.
“It was as tough as you can imagine, and it’s heartbreaking,” Matt, 29, confided in Emmanuel. “If you don’t understand why something like that is problematic in 2018, there’s a lot of me that you won’t understand. It’s as simple as that. … I wasn’t OK. It was in that moment that [I realized] Rachael might not understand what it means to be Black in America.”
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Playing Devil’s advocate, Emmanuel asked Matt what he would say to people who might question his love for Rachael if he was able to breakup with her so easily over her past racial insensitivities.
“I would ask those same people who are so triggered to bring that same energy to supporting folks of color who are asking for change,” an unflinching Matt said. “These feelings [of love] don’t go away overnight when you still care about somebody and want them to do better. It’s not a situation I think that I would help.”
Later, when Rachael and Emmanuel talked without Matt, she said she was sorry for the pain she had caused Matt and was working to be more culturally aware and racially sensitive.
“I don’t want to sit here and victimize myself,” Rachael said before explaining to Emmanuel how she now viewed pictures of herself at the Antebellum party. “I see someone who was living in ignorance without thinking about who it would be hurting.”
Emmanuel also asked Rachael when she went on this season of The Bachelor, knowing it would feature the franchise’s first Black leading man, if she worried about those photos being uncovered — and Rachael said she didn’t. “I never took the time to make that connection,” she added.
Are you surprised to see how Matt and Rachael’s story ended? Drop a comment with your thoughts below.