Matt James Opens Up About the Dramatic Conclusion of His Bachelor Journey: 'It Hit Me Like a Ton of Bricks'
Matt James made a Tuesday appearance on “Good Morning America,” during which he opened up about the dramatic conclusion of his journey as the Season 25 Bachelor.
As Bachelor Nation is well aware, Matt’s historic turn as the series’ first Black lead was tainted when he returned home to discover that his final rose recipient, Rachael Kirkconnell, had engaged in racist social media activity and attended an “Old South”-themed college party prior to coming on the show.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Matt told “GMA’s” Michael Strahan. “I felt the weight of everything that I was carrying throughout the season and with what we were dealing with as a country and having to explain that, why it was problematic to me and our relationship, which was extremely difficult.”
Matt previously spoke out about Rachael’s actions on Instagram, describing the situation as “devastating and heartbreaking, to put it bluntly.”
Rachael apologized on “After the Final Rose” and in an Instagram statement (which you can read here). Still, Matt told host Emmanuel Acho that he felt he had no other choice but to call it quits with the embattled contestant off-camera.
“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 directly during the taping, which aired on Monday. “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.”
On “GMA,” Matt said that it was “frustrating” that he had to explain “not only to Rachael but to the rest of America why things like that are problematic.”
However, Matt believes Rachael is a “good person.” “Everything that she outlined in her apology and her statement, I’m looking forward to seeing her do because I know she’s capable of it,” he said.
Matt was announced as the Season 25 Bachelor in the summer of 2020, a pivotal time in the U.S. when the Black Lives Matter movement was reignited in direct response to the murder of George Floyd and unceasing police brutality against people of color. A nationwide reckoning of systemic racism quickly followed, demanding change in arenas of all kind, from entertainment and fashion to media and politics.
Though he never envisioned his run as the Bachelor would end like this, Matt is grateful to have been a conduit for impactful discussions about race: “The conversations that have come from everything that’s taken place are more important than anything I could have left with.”