Rachael Kirkconnell, who faced widespread backlash in February after photos resurfaced of her attending an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018, is opening up about the controversy and what it was like being accused of racially insensitive behavior.
Speaking with Michelle Saahene and Melissa DePino via Instagram Live on their "From Privilege to Progress" social media channel Monday, Kirkconnell said she found it difficult to have people look at her as if she were the same person she was three years ago, when the photos were taken, according to Fox News.
Kirkconnell then said she attended a small school and was unaware of the type of history the fraternity was celebrating at the time and insisted she did not attend the party but simply took some photos with her sorority sisters before heading to the beach.
"I saw the full antebellum-themed plantation party, everyone dressed as Confederate soldiers, the parades and when she was telling me, 'Oh, this is how it is at some schools,' I'm like so ashamed that I basically participated in that unknowingly because I'm sitting here in my own little privileged, selfish world just thinking, 'Oh, we just put dresses on to go take a photo op,'" she said.
Kirkconnell added she was "mind-blown when I heard that that's what the formal was at other schools, or at least used to be" and eventually decided to drop out of her sorority not long after the event.
"I guess that's the first time my eyes opened about 'OK, there's a difference between being not racist and anti-racist, because back then if you would have asked me, 'Are you a racist person,' I would be like, 'Of course, I'm not," she said
Kirkconnell previously apologized for the photos but speaking during the Instagram Live, she pointed out the media and social media had "twisted" things along the way.
"I didn't try to make excuses for myself because there are none," she said. "I mean, of course, things were twisted along the way but whether it was a party or me just going to take some photos, that dress and the history of that formal was racist and I was completely ignorant to that and I needed to be held accountable for that."
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