Matt Responds to Claims His Dad’s ‘Bachelor’ Cameo Perpetuates ‘Negative Stereotypes’ About Black Fathers

Matt James, "The Bachelor" 2021
Photo: ABC/Craig Sjodin.

An emotional reunion. Matt James’ dad, Manny, surprised him on The Bachelor on the Monday, March 8, episode. As Bachelor Nation members know, Matt and his father are estranged.

In the “Women Tell All” special on March 1, Matt told host Chris Harrison about how his parents’ divorce when he was a kid affected his view on love. “There’s still a lot of fear based on what I’ve seen in my family in the past,” he said. “I don’t want to make the same mistakes that caused my family to be torn apart.”

In the March 8 episode, Matt and Manny are seen in an emotional conversation as Matt tells his dad why he’s hurt by him. “When I needed you, you weren’t there,” Matt tells his dad. Manny responds, “Do you know what I went through with your mom?” After Matt tells his father, “I don’t want to make excuses,” Manny responds, “Nobody’s perfect, son.”

Matt and Manny’s conversation is one of the moments that lead to Matt’s intense talk on a curb with Harrison in the finale, where the host asks him if he wants to continue the process, to which Matt responds that he doesn’t know, according to Reality Steve. Despite the emotional conversation with his dad, Reality Steve reports that the confrontation had a positive outcome for Matt and Manny’s relationship.

After the episode aired, Matt took to his Twitter to respond to claims that his dad’s cameo perpetuated “negative depictions of Black fathers” in the media. “Tonight’s convo with my dad was hard to experience, and it’s just as hard to watch all this time later, especially knowing the world is watching with me,” Matt tweeted. “I just wanted to say that too often, we see dangerous stereotypes and negative depictions of Black fathers in media. And they have consequences when presented without context.”

He continued, “All I hope is that people watch that conversation with nuance, care, and also an understanding that there are real systemic issues at play. I’m so proud of myself for being vulnerable, and I’m so proud of my mother. I wouldn’t be who I am without my dad. That’s a fact.”

Matt’s tweets came after season 13 Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay took to her Instagram Story to slam the Bachelor franchise for its “perpetuation of stereotypes in the black community.”  “You guys, I’m breaking my hiatus from talking about The Bachelor in light of what I saw tonight on tonight’s episode,” Rachel said. In the post’s caption, Rachel wrote that she couldn’t “keep quiet” about the “perpetuation of stereotypes in the black community” in Matt’s Fantasy Suites episode.

Ahead is what else to know about Matt James’ dad, Manny, after their emotional confrontation on The Bachelor season 25.

Who is Matt James’ dad, Manny?

Manny is the father of Matt and his olde brother, John. He divorced Matt’s mother, Patty Cuculo James, when Matt was a young kid, leaving Patty to raise Matt and John on her own as a single mother. On Father’s Day 2020, Matt posted a tribute to his mother with a bible verse. “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling,” he quoted.

In an interview with ABC News in 2019, Patty talked about how Matt is drawn to families with a mother and father together for his charity ABC Food tours. “He was always drawn to families where the mom and dad were together,” she said. “I am so proud of him. He overcame everything and he wants to be a role model for these kids.”

On Good Morning America in January 2021, Matt reiterated his mother’s affect on him. “[I’m looking for] someone who you can experience life together with,” he said. “Someone who is trustworthy, someone who is themselves, someone who’s caring, honest, compassionate…Everything that [my mom] sacrificed for myself and my brother to be in the position that we’re at, I want to be that for somebody else. And the way that she loved myself and John is how I want to love somebody and how I want to be loved.”

What is Matt’s relationship with his dad?

As seen in the May 8 episode of The Bachelor, Matt and his dad, Manny, are estranged and have a tense relationship. In an interview on The Tamron Hall Show in January 2021, Matt opened up about how his father’s infidelity affected his parents’ relationship and his own bond with his father.

“There [are] very tough conversations that I have with individuals that allude to where I’m at in my life and why it’s been so difficult for me to be in a relationship,” he said. “A lot of that stems from my dad and my mom’s relationship. I saw what infidelity looked like at a young age. I saw family members that were against the relationship and doubling down on it after seeing the infidelity between my dad and my mom.”

He continued, “[Infidelity] is such a selfish thing to happen. For it to take place when you’ve made that commitment to somebody — and knowing how serious I take that commitment—is why I want to make sure that I’m going about this process as seamless[ly] and focused as I can so I’m not putting someone in the situation to get hurt.”

The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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