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Rachel Lindsay isn't sure if she'd host The Bachelor. The franchise's future has been called into question after Chris Harrison announced that he'd be taking time off and would not be hosting the upcoming After the Final Rose special with Matt James and his final pick.
The news came in Harrison's second apology for defending contestant Rachael Kirkconnell's racist actions in an interview with Lindsay on Feb. 9. Kirkconnell has also issued an apology.
In a sneak peek posted by People of Lindsay's podcast appearance on Wednesday's episode of Black Girls Texting, the former Bachelorette opens up about whether she'd consider taking Harrison's place as host if his temporary step back becomes permanent.
"Honestly, I can't even go there. Because one, Chris has only said that he's stepping aside, and that's all that I know, that he's not doing the finale," Lindsay says. "It's hard for me to even think about being the host, because in a lot of ways, Bachelor Nation has changed my life in the best way possible. But at the same time, it's really toxic. ... And I don't know if I want to subject myself to that."
Lindsay currently hosts the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast with Becca Kufrin, but recently said she would not renew her contract with the Bachelor franchise following this latest controversy. On Black Girls Texting, Lindsay says she doesn't want to play into the idea that she's out for Harrison's job.
"I don't know if I want to play into the whole line of thinking that people think I did this to get Chris Harrison's job. It's so wild," she says. "Yeah, I went to go have an interview with a person to recap last night's episode and I thought, 'You know what? Today's the day I'm going to try to take your job.' How would I even think like that? But that's the kind of stuff that people say about me. So for me, I really don't know -- I don't know if that's something that's for me."
"Honestly, I could see them not having [a host] at all," she shares. "Should Chris decide to say, 'I don't want to do this at all,' or, 'I'm going to leave, my time is up,' I could see them not [replacing him]. I mean, pre-quarantine, he was barely in the show, anyway. I think that they could [do] narration, bring in a past contestant. But for me, I don't know. And because it's so 50/50 on how people feel about me, I don't even really think they would offer it."
Another consideration for Lindsay is whether she would be free to say what comes to mind.
"Could I talk like this [if I was the host]? I don't want to be muzzled. That freedom to say how I feel and to demand change and speak out, I couldn't do that the same way if I was the host," she says. "But on the flip side, if I was, then I'd be a person in power who could say, 'Hey, we need to do this.'"
"That's what I keep preaching more than anything," she continues. "More than having a host replacement, you've got to have somebody in power who is a person of color who gets it, who understands it. Because as we're seeing time and time again, even with the lead [of color], you're still not getting it, because we're seeing things happen that shouldn't."
In a statement on Instagram on Feb. 11, Kirkconnell apologized, and said she hoped to "earn your forgiveness through my future actions."
That apology came one day after Harrison issued his own statement, apologizing for "wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism" by defending Kirkconnell's racist actions and asking people to offer her "grace."
In a follow-up statement on Feb. 13, Harrison revealed he'd be stepping away for a "period of time."
"By excusing historical racism, I defended it. I invoked the term 'woke police,' which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong," he continued in part, before sending a message to the Black and BIPOC communities.
"The historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions. To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time," Harrison wrote.
"The reality is that I'm learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly," he wrote, in part. "Chris's failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explaining the racist history of the Antebellum South, a painful history that every American should understand immediately, was troubling and painful to watch. 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."