Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dear World: Why I'm Not The Next 'Bachelor'

Dear World,

Let me start by saying, I want to congratulate Chris! 

Chris, I support you as much as I would support any of my friends in finding love, so I especially hope you don’t take offense to this letter.  Anyone who feels that one person is more deserving of finding love than another is absurd in my opinion. Which is why you have my full support.  I love and respect you brotha. Now go get your wife.

Now, with this morning's announcement of ABC's next 'Bachelor', I felt it's my responsibility to take this opportunity to speak up, rather than let things be swept under the rug. I feel I need to tell the world why I believe I was not chosen and possibly never considered at all. I understand that this letter may come as a shock, and depending on who you are and your personal views, these statements may elicit a range of reactions as well as feelings. It is my intention to offend no one.

So why wasn’t I chosen to be the next bachelor? 

Many thoughts come to mind.

The most important and obvious elephant in the room that remains to be an underlying concern for some, is the question of will there ever be a black 'Bachelor' or 'Bachelorette'? Let me be clear, I not trying to be that guy. But I’d be lying to myself and the world if I didn’t say that I feel like race played a large factor in this decision. 

What else could it have been?

Was it because I was on Bachelor In Paradise? I don’t think so.

Not enough fan support? It sure didn't feel that way.

Not ready for love? Definitely not the case.

As many reasons as there possibly could be, there is one in particular that stands out and that has made me particularly uneasy. 

Now that the decision is made, I'm expressing my feelings and hope they inspire an important discussion.

It's important to note, even I myself had genuine concerns about how I would react if I was ever given the opportunity to be the next 'Bachelor'. Being the “first black 'Bachelor'” was an intimidating thought in and of itself! How would the world respond to an African American 'Bachelor'? How would the cast members feel? Would my faith continue to be challenged and scrutinized? How would the world respond to the prospect of an African-American couple or potentially an interracial couple? 

All these questions will not be answered with me, but I hope they will with someone else down the road. This is why I have peace as I’m typing this letter.

Let me assure you, I am not bitter. I am not desperate. I am not playing a 'race card’ and I’m not trying to bite the hand that fed me. I am grateful for ABC and the entire Bachelor/Bachelorette family that I have been blessed to be added to. And I know that if this letter was coming from any of those negative places of bitterness or desperation, I would be lessening my character and cheapening this message. No, those are not my motives at all. 

As I said, I loved my time on The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise. It was a huge blessing and an unforgettable experience that taught me more about myself as a person and allowed me to make friendships that I will cherish for many years to come. Although I didn’t find love, I walked away from the experience a better man and more prepared for the day when I do find love.

The aftermath of being on the show has been unbelievable to me. I've felt such an outpouring of love and support from thousands of people all across the world who simply liked me on a reality TV show. I never imagined being embraced by so many.

Amongst all the tweets and messages of "you were my favorite on the show!”, “thank you for being real”, “thanks for not being afraid to represent your faith" and "I love the cookie monster!", was a hint of change on the horizon. A first for a franchise and a potential beginning of a new era on popular television. A chance for change and a way to progress our society further by knocking down old perceptions, expectations, and ideals. It was the opportunity to have the first African-American 'Bachelor'.

But this morning, that hint of change on the horizon faded.

I’m still hopeful that change will come someday. If not with me, then with someone else.

My motives for this letter is a call for change. To make the world question why. To make people think.

My motive is to let people know that simply because the world was not ready for change, we failed to take a step forward for progress in our society. Due to the belief that the world was not ready for the first African-American 'Bachelor', we have lost out on another opportunity for equality, hope, and true change.

After reading this letter, some of you may think, "Get over yourself, Marquel. This is just reality TV. It is not serious, it wouldn't be making a difference with anything." But I don't believe that's the truth. I believe that anything that reaches a large majority of people, even if it is mainstream reality television, has the power to influence change in the world. And once again, today we missed an opportunity to influence a change.

I am forever grateful and humbled by this whole experience.  I believe God put me in this position so I could continue to be refined as a human being and become a better future father and husband. This letter is not a statement, but a plea. A plea for change and a plea for tolerance, equality, and coexisting everywhere. 

I want to be a voice for change. I want to be a voice that inspires hope for anyone and everyone of any color, race, or nationality. I want to say that I hope we can one day live in a world where certain positions, accolades, or acknowledgements are given purely based on the merit and qualifications of those being considered above anything else.

Lastly, I love you all. Know that I am proud of who I am. I’m proud of who I represent in regards to my family, friends, fans, and coworkers. I am proud of what and who I represent in my faith. Thank you all. I am so humbled by all the love and support that I have felt from so many of you over the course of this journey.

Here's for change.


All the best,

Marquel Martin