Matt James, the first Black star of "The Bachelor," says that after he and season-winner Rachael Kirkconnell ended their relationship following revelations of her racially controversial past, the two reality-TV stars are back together.
"I think the best way to put it," entrepreneur and community-organization founder James, 29, told The Wall Street Journal's magazine, WSJ., in an interview posted Wednesday, "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."
Georgia native Kirkconnell, 24, confirmed in an email to the magazine that she and James, who is biracial and identifies as Black, are again together, but otherwise requested privacy.
James explained to WSJ., "I think it's unfair to leave people without the ability to unlearn and be better." He and Kirkconnell ended the ABC show's latest season with a relationship commitment, though not the traditional engagement. The two revealed on the "After the Final Rose" reunion that they had broken up following accusations that she had "liked" racist social-media posts and had attended an Old South-themed party in 2018.
Kirkconnell, who apologized publicly on Feb. 11, apologized to James on the prerecorded reunion episode that aired March 15. "For you to end things," she said, "I realized that that must have been really hard for you. … And I just wanted to say I'm really sorry for not understanding that initially and that … I hurt you."
James responded, "The most disappointing thing for me was having to explain to you why what I saw was problematic and why I was so upset. … It was in the context of you not fully understanding my Blackness and what it means to be a Back man in America … and it broke my heart."
He told People magazine last week, however, that he has since "seen Rachael a handful of times" and was "not pursuing any relationships right now outside of that. I said I was going to focus on my relationship with her and that means focusing on it."
In his WSJ. interview, James also noted that he did not have sex with any of the contestants during the "Bachelor/Bachelorette" franchise's overnight "fantasy suite" dates, saying instead he simply spoke with finalists Kirkconnell, Michelle Young and Bri Springs.
"I can't speak for anybody but myself, but I think the women appreciated it," he said. "Because I did learn things about them that I hadn't gathered — that I don't think I would have learned if I hadn't used that time to really dive deeper into something that they might not have been comfortable talking about on camera."
Kirkconnell has not commented on social media about the interview.