Ben Higgins and Ashley Iacnoetti are addressing the criticism they received for denouncing Hannah Brown’s use of the N-word.
During the newest episode of their “Almost Famous” podcast, the former “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” contestants spoke out about the backlash they were subjected to.
This conversation comes in the wake of the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died while in police custody.
“A lot has happened since we talked last,” Iaconetti stated at the beginning of the episode. “Two weeks and the world is a different place.”
“Two weeks ago, Hannah Brown comes out and says the N-word on social media,” continued Higgins, 31. “And then Hannah disappears. Doesn’t say anything. Like, she’s gone, and we get criticism on this podcast because we said that Hannah was wrong for what she did. And Ashley, I’ll stick to that.”
Higgins also brought attention to the tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was fatally shot by two white men in broad daylight back in February.
“You have a great young man running down the street, going for a jog in the neighbourhood and he’s shot. So, it feels like at that point, a lot of our eyes and ears are open to racial injustice,” he expressed.
Added Higgins: “How are we going to respond? I mean, hey, it’s not a secret. There are two white people hosting this podcast. We are not experts on this topic. There’s a lot of things that you and I do not know, a lot of things that we’ll never be able to relate with, and a lot of things that we are learning. But Hannah Brown was wrong. What Hannah did was not right.”
However, both reality stars reiterated that they “never insinuated cancelling” the former pageant queen.
After initially apologizing for her actions in a controversial Instagram story, Brown took two weeks off of social media before posting a nearly 20-minute video about what she had been doing to better herself after the incident.
“My hope is that we turn to forgiving, loving, accepting Hannah but recognizing what she did was wrong,” Higgins said.
“If you’re a Hannah fan, I urge you to hear what I’m saying. What she said was not right. Her apology was not great… Two weeks later, she comes out with an apology that I hope we can all listen to, as friends, as family, as fans. I hope we can hear what Hannah says, and hey, she has a lot to learn, but she’s not saying what she did was right,” he continued.
“I think everybody was begging for her to apologize and speak out because we were ready to forgive. I think the Black community, from my friends that are Black, from what Rachel Lindsay has said, from what Mike Johnson has said, they were ready to forgive but they wanted to hear from Hannah,” he went on. “We heard from Hannah. And people have responded, and we’re all learning.”
Throughout the episode, both Higgins and Iaconetti wanted their audience to know that they will never condone “any type of racism.”
“If at some point you’re listening to this [and] the things that have happened over the last few weeks are not gravely concerning… then I’m going to politely ask you to stop listening to this podcast,” he said.
Higgins continued: “I don’t want to push you away, I don’t want to say this isn’t a place for all. It is. But this is not a place for hate. When it comes to human beings and topics like racism, this is not the place for you if you’re going to stand on the side of anti-Black lives.”
Check out the full episode of their podcast above.