The weddings of “Married at First Sight“ are upon us, with Season 12 being unprecedented in many ways.
As the season begins, I had the chance to ask Ryan about growing up, racism, and being in love. His answers could not be more poignant or timely, as a new day dawns on our Nation. My hope is that you read this interview with an open heart and mind.
Let’s start with something you said in your intro. As a person of color, you shared that growing up in a predominantly white, rural, conservative, community taught you a different way to see the world. I’d like you to share your lens on that.
The realization of having a different skin color than 99% of the world I grew up in, came extremely early for me.
As a kid, you’re fighting so desperately to just be accepted. The concept of being looked past or being perceived as a threat, hurts.
Sometimes I think people lose sight of the idea that we are directly (for better or for worse) the product of the environments we were raised in. The black experience is unique to all and isn’t monolithic.
Can you expound on your personal experience?
Being black for me was having my blackness slighted because the route I chose wasn’t what others envisioned for me. None of these things have lessened my blackness as an individual.
Racism happens on the street corner just the same as it happens in the boardroom. I’ve lived my life being called oreo, white, etc.
I can assure you though when I get pulled over, I’m not being asked, ‘how many white people do you know?’
That’s a profound lens. Thank you for giving us a better understanding. Moving on, you revealed your dad laid out the blueprint for what a supportive husband and dad should be.
My dad is truly my hero. I could talk about all the ways I admire him. I hope I’m half the man he was to me, to my kids one day.
My dad was one of eight and grew up with very little on a farm in Vacherie, Louisiana right next to the Mississippi River. He worked in corporate America for 40+ years.
Something he always shared, was that he never felt equal in boardrooms and never wanted his sons to lack confidence or feel like they couldn’t match up.
How did that impact your upbringing?
My dad left everything he knew to give his kids and family a life he never had. He and my mom moved us to an area with the best education and hammered the importance of education and hard work.
What are the core values he instilled in you?
I get a lot of my discipline from him as my grandfather was a World War II veteran.
Early in life, my dad traveled Monday through Friday, but I can’t ever remember him not coaching the team I was playing on or missing a game.
He’s quiet, introverted, stoic, and not a big conversationalist if he doesn’t know you. But his heart and actions speak volumes for who he is. He’s pushing 65 and he still wants to know how he can help me in my day-to-day life. I don’t know where I would be in life without him or my mom.
As a last question, let’s talk about your past relationships. You admit you have never told anyone you love them. Is that a concern for you as a part of this fast-paced experiment?
I know I’m a super passionate person about anything I put my mind to. [It] might not appear that way on camera all the time, but that’s how I view love. I have no concern I’ll be able to recognize it and then act on it.
Featured Photo Credit: The First Look Photography