The weddings of Married at First Sight are upon us, with Season 12 being unprecedented in many ways.

Experts matched 29-year-old Ryan and flight attendant Clara (27), the first inter-racial couple to be married on the Lifetime hit produced by Kinetic Content.

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.

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