It was an emotional evening on , Monday, as Matt James confronted his estranged father. James was raised by his mother, Patty, and he confronted his father Manny for leaving them and being unfaithful to his mother. The conversation was uncomfortable, but James felt it was also very important.
“I remember, growing up, he’d come around every now and then, drop off some shoes, buy us pizza.” said James, fighting back tears. “I didn’t need any shoes. I didn’t need any pizza. I needed a dad.”
At times James and his father’s conversation was intense, but ultimately beneficial. James told his father that the infidelity he showed his mother and the abandonment that he experienced has impacted him negatively later on in life.
“Harboring that negativity in my life hasn’t progressed any of my relationships” said James. “It’s hindered my growth, and for me to move forward, I need to address those demons in my life.”
The conversation received mixed reactions from fans on social media, with the majority of viewers posting that the conversation was too personal and exploitative.
Some viewers, however, were happy ABC aired such a candid conversation. James himself took to Twitter to expand on the importance of sharing these interactions.
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 James (@mattjames919) March 9, 2021
“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…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…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.”
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