Open letter to Matt
You were my favorite bachelor but you got some things wrong in the end. Here’s the thing...love is hard to find. Really hard. And it takes lots of work to keep it. Don’t let too much time slip through your fingers as you contemplate ways not to be your dad. And while you honor your mom, make sure that you don’t let yourself live behind her lens of grief and loss. You are not your dad, but ironically some of your contemplations about how not to be him brought actions that actually put you in a lane with him.
Tonight, we saw you sitting across from Rachel; a woman who clearly loves you with everything she has. She’s been publicly humiliated, ridiculed and suffered tremendous loss for some stupid decisions she made out of immaturity and ignorance. Something we’ve all done. With grace and humility, she found the strength few would, and showed up to publicly own her ignorance, mistakes and heartache. It was sad, and gut-wrenching and made me like her more, not less.
I have my Masters and a successful career, but in my 20’s I made a lot of stupid social decisions based on where my friends or the cute boys were, many that my employer would find cringe-worthy, and that I would not be proud of. The thing is, Rachel didn’t go to these parties or “like” certain pics with the intent to hurt you or others. You sat across from her tonight with a similar stoicism that your dad showed you when you were emotional with him, and you repeatedly said that it was up to Rachel to explore educating herself and making changes on her own. Okay. Here’s where I had to stop and ask myself, “Did you love her?”
The easy thing for you to do, in the face of such public scrutiny over Rachel’s actions (and I mention “the easy thing” because you said it to both Michelle and Rachel after going non- emotional and absent on them, which I admit, did have me thinking for a minute about your dad) would have been for you to walk away and tell Rachel to figure it out. Basically, what you’re doing. The hard and earnest thing would have been to let love prevail and help Rachel understand things with a perspective that she can’t find alone, pushing aside everyone else’s opinions about how you should handle your personal affairs as a black man. You said that you knew Rachel didn’t understand what it was like to be a black man. No kidding. Help her understand. Love doesn’t just walk away. Rachel got that part right. The easy thing for her to have done, would have been to cower under a rock, refuse to show up, and act unphased by the loss of you. She did the hard stuff. I can’t reconcile that the underlying lesson in race relations and understanding others who are different from us, is to say, “you got it wrong, so off you go.” Love does not work that way, and expecting her to look through your eyes without you is cruel, not to mention being peppered with questions about who she blames... her parents... teachers. It was a lot.
Would your dad have walked away so readily? Would you be making the same decision without so many others fueling the division by making it a public argument instead of a personal understanding between you and the woman you love? These are the things I’m left wondering. You have a great woman who made some bad mistakes, who loves you and wants to go through life with you. Count your blessings and help her understand, that is the real key to bridging our differences. Through your pain and your eyes, she would learn a lot more than from reading.