screenshot Rachael Kirkconnell Matt James

Matt James’ Bachelor season was marked by a few controversies. Photos emerged of finalist Rachael Kirkconnell at an Antebellum-themed sorority party, as well as evidence of other insensitive social media posts, which ultimately resulted in James deciding that they couldn’t continue with their relationship. The situation escalated when Chris Harrison had to step down as longtime host after his clumsy defense of Kirkconnell in an interview with Rachel Lindsay. It’s been a few months now, and James and Kirkconnell are reportedly back together – and he has explained his reasons why.

Ever since they were spotted together in New York after the reunion, there has been speculation brewing that Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell were rekindling the relationship they started on The Bachelor. Rumors have been swirling and now quotes from James in The Wall Street Journal (via Too Fab) have seemingly confirmed their relationship is back on. It seems James didn’t want to leave Kirkconnell – who he said he fell in love with on the show – out to dry. He said,

I think the best way to put it is that we can have critical conversations about being in this relationship and what I need in a partner -- especially if that woman isn't Black -- to understand what comes with me and my life and being Black… It's on people who care about being allies to do the work to be truly antiracist. And I think it's unfair to leave people without the ability to unlearn and be better.

The revelation that Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell are supposedly back together might be a bit shocking to some, especially considering the huge aftermath of The Bachelor Season 25's racial controversy. ABC had to make some changes by bringing in Emmanuel Acho to host the “After the Final Rose” special, as well as Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe as replacement hosts for The Bachelorette. In its announcement of the changing of the guard, the network also promised to “continue the dialogue around achieving greater equity and inclusion.”

On the reverse side, fans who watched Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell’s relationship play out on The Bachelor might not be too surprised about their reconnection. The two clearly shared a spark that James didn’t feel he had with the more than two dozen other women on the show. The heart wants what it wants, and it seems James still wants Kirkconnell, despite issues affecting their relationship that played out publicly while the show was still airing.

Another underlying element behind Matt James’ decision to get back together with Rachael Kirkconnell is apparently also preventing the two from being too public about it. A source for Page Six claimed that James is “feeling the pressure to set a good example for other Black men.” So it seems the first-ever Black Bachelor lead wants to tackle the racial issues in his relationship head-on, rather than continue to drop the conversation altogether, as was suggested by his decision at the reunion.

No doubt Bachelor Nation will have some kind of opinion about Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell moving forward as a couple. The biggest question that will likely be on people’s minds: is love worth all the heartbreak and fallout that resulted from their controversy in the first place? We'll have to wait and see how the story plays out.

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