Erich Schwer, a frontrunner on this season of “The Bachelorette,” has issued an apology after a yearbook photo of him in blackface surfaced online.
In the photo, shared on Reddit Wednesday, Schwer, now 29, wears an afro wig and dark makeup on his face.
“I wholeheartedly apologize for the insensitive photo of me in blackface from my high school yearbook that has been circulating,” Schwer wrote on Instagram Thursday. “What I thought at the time was a representation of my love for Jimi Hendrix, was nothing but ignorance.”
He continued: “I was naïve to the hurtful implications of my actions to the Black community and those closest to me, and will forever regret my offensive and damaging behavior. I am deeply ashamed by my actions and understand that my apology is only the first step in taking accountability.”
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has reached out to a rep for “The Bachelorette” for further comment.
The “Bachelor” franchise has drawn scrutiny in recent years for racism controversies.
Rachael Kirkconnell, who won Season 25 of “The Bachelor,” faced backlash after fans found she had “liked” Confederate flag-related TikTok videos and attended an Antebellum-themed fraternity formal in 2018. Kirkconnell later apologized for her “offensive and racist” behavior. actions in an Instagram statement.
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Days later came an “Extra” TV interview between the show’s then-longtime host Chris Harrison and Rachel Lindsay – who in 2017 became the first Black “Bachelorette” – in which Harrison slammed the “woke police,” called for “compassion” for Kirkconnell. and excused the party she attended as a product of a different time.
In June 2021, Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment confirmed Harrison would step aside as host and thanked him “for his many contributions over the past 20 years.”
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Former “Bachelorette” Hannah Brown apologized for using “unacceptable” language – using the N-word during an Instagram Live broadcast – in 2020, adding there was “no excuse” for using the racial slur.
“I owe you all a major apology,” Brown wrote on Instagram at the time. “There is no excuse and I will not justify what I said. I have read your messages and seen the hurt I have caused. I own it all. I am terribly sorry and know that whether in public or private, this language is unacceptable. I promise to do better.”
Contributing: Hannah Yasharoff, Bryan Alexander