Trista Sutter is speaking out in the wake of Chris Harrison's controversial interview with Rachel Lindsay, and The Bachelor franchise host's subsequent announcement that he would be stepping away from his hosting duties temporarily.
During a special "Trista's Takes" segment on Tuesday's episode of her Better Etc. podcast, the original Bachelorette star, 48, began by telling her listeners "first and foremost" that she does "not condone racism," nor "participating in it" or "defending it."
"For those of you who missed it, Rachel Lindsay was my guest on Better Etc. and I brought her on specifically to discuss racial injustice, her personal story of how she has been treated because of the color of her skin and how all of us, including myself, can be better allies," Sutter continued of the "important" conversation.
The reality star went on to say that she's "not okay with certain people within Bachelor Nation shaming other people within Bachelor Nation who are not directly involved with this controversy because they haven't spoken up."
"As I've learned time and time again on my podcast, you never truly know what someone else is going through behind their own closed doors, so to shame people who aren't directly involved for not using their platform in the timeframe you expect because this topic is important to you is not okay with me," Sutter added.
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Mike Johnson Says Chris Harrison Should 'Be Removed from The Bachelor Franchise
Addressing the controversy surrounding Harrison, 49, directly, Sutter said that he has been "like family" over the almost two decades she has been a part of the Bachelor family. However, "All that said, just because you're family doesn't mean you have to agree with the other person's words or actions."
After watching the full Extra interview Harrison did with Lindsay, 35, Sutter "was most definitely disappointed" in his defense of Rachael Kirkconnell, who is currently competing for Matt James' final rose on The Bachelor. (Kirkconnell, 24, was called out for old social media posts which saw her dressed in Native American attire in costume and attending an antebellum plantation-themed college party in 2018. She has since apologized.)
"But I also had a big problem with the way he dismissed Rachel Lindsay, spoke aggressively, interrupted her and, in my opinion, didn't give her the respect that she deserves not only as a friend but also as his interviewer, who happens to be a Black woman who has dealt with racism personally," Sutter said.
The mother of two went on to say, "I do appreciate that [Chris] took ownership for his words and behavior" in the statements he gave following the incident, "knowing that they caused hurt to a lot of people" both inside Bachelor Nation and beyond.
"I do think he should be held accountable for his words and actions, but I don't agree with the concept of the cancel culture," Sutter continued. "As Rachel said on a follow-up segment on Extra, 'Let's not label. Let's not cancel. But let's hold people accountable for their actions.' "
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Harrison has temporarily stepped away from the franchise and will not host this season's upcoming After the Final Rose special, after apologizing for "wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism" during his Extra interview with Lindsay.
In their 14-minute, unedited conversation, Harrison said people should have "a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion" in the wake of Kirkconnell's resurfaced photos and questioned the "lens" of 2021 compared to 2018.
Since then, many of the franchise's contestants have spoken out in the wake of Lindsay's interview with Harrison, including Tayshia Adams and the men from season 16 of The Bachelorette. Season 15 contestant Mike Johnson and the BIPOC women who are on the current season of The Bachelor also spoke out.
"As his friend, I choose to give Chris the benefit of the doubt that he will do the work that is necessary during his time away from the show to be better and learn from his mistakes. And they were mistakes," Sutter said on her podcast Tuesday.
She continued, "I hate feeling disappointed, especially when it's in someone that I love and care about. But I have to believe he will do the work and he will hold himself accountable. And if he doesn't, he's got Bachelor Nation who will do it for him."
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