Chris Harrison used the term “woke police” when defending season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s allegedly racist social media posts, in conversation with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay. What is the meaning of “woke police”?

What did Chris Harrison say?

A few days ago, pictures surfaced of Bachelor contestant Rachael Kickconnell at an Old South “antebellum party” in 2018. 

For those who don’t recognise the word, antebellum means “before a war”, but the term also has political connotations. It usually refers to the period before the American Civil War – i.e., during the era of plantations and racial segregation.

While Extra host Rachel Lindsay described the pictures as “not a good look”, Harrison countered. He asked, “Is it a good look in 2018 or is it not a good look in 2021?”

Harrison then went on to say, “I am not the woke police, there’s plenty of people, plenty of people, that will do that for us”.

“The woke police is out there, Harrison continued, “and this poor girl Rachael, who has just been thrown to the lions… I don’t know how you are equipped, when you have never done this before, to be woke enough.”

‘Woke police’ meaning

As a relatively new term, “woke” still has a broad and nebulous definition. However, it is increasingly used a byword for social awareness, specifically regarding civil rights issues such as racism, sexism and transphobia.

Merriam-Webster traces the word “woke” back to Erykah Badu’s 2008 song Master Teacher.

Later, in 2014, it grew in popularity among black communities in the United States, following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. 


In recent years, the phrase “woke police” has been used by critics of the movement to undermine the sense of social awareness that underpins “wokeness”. 

For example, those who oppose wokeness, or woke-ism, might use “woke police” to accuse woke folk of being militant in their “policing” of language.

Twitter’s reaction to Harrison’s use of ‘woke police’

Since last week’s interview, Chris Harrison’s use of the term “woke police” – and its meaning – has stuck in the minds of fans of the show. 

Twitter user Kamii poked fun at the whole debacle.

Another Twitter user wrote, “Chris Harrison saying woke police playing in my head on repeat.”

It has also gained notoriety, with users accusing Harrison of being hypocritical. One even advocated for his permanent removal from the platform.

Meanwhile, Mikayla Bartholomew, co-host of The Blckchelorettes, put it this way:

“Discourse on racism did not begin in 2021. It did not begin in 2020, 2018, 2016 … we could argue that [the discourse on racism] has been available to us since the moment white folks came onto stolen land with stolen bodies.”

Among this season’s 32 women are 25 who identify as women of colour. It also features the show’s first ever black bachelor, Matt James.

Chris Harrison announced on Saturday, 13 February that he is “stepping aside” from the show, but only “for a period of time”.

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