The program attracted negative attention after photos resurfaced of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell previously attending an “Old South” themed party at a plantation in 2018.
Then longtime host Chris Harrison conducted an interview with former “Bachelorette” star Rachel Lindsay, who made history as the first Black Bachelorette, in which he ended up defending Kirkonnell in the interview.
Now, James has taken to Instagram to address the matter.
In his lengthy statement, James — who is the Bachelor’s first Black lead — said that “the past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life,” and that he felt the need to address the matter now, despite his season still having several episodes yet to air.
He called the photos of Kirkconnell “incredibly disappointing.”
“The reality is that I’m learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly,” James, 29, said. “Chris’ failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explaining that the racist history of the Antebellum South, a painful history that every American should understand intimately, was troubling and painful to watch.”
Filming for the season has already wrapped, meaning that James has presumably selected a winner and is no longer seeing Harrison daily.
“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,” he added. “This moment has sparked critical conversations and reporting, raised important questions, and resulted in inspiring displays of solidarity from The Bachelor nation.”
James explained that he’s chosen to “reevaluate and process” his time on the show and that of other people of color — especially Black contestants.
“I will continue to process this experience, and you will hear more from me in the end,” he concluded. “My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better.”
Kirkconnell has also apologized for her past actions which she called “racist and offensive.”
Reps for the show and Harrison did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Fox News’ Jessica Napoli contributed to this report