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Manti Te’o – “I can’t believe he didn’t know!”

Well…believe it! I do.

Ok, so I just watched the two episode documentary of Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist on Netflix. And wow, was it informative! All I can say is that Manti Te’o is a VICTIM. And like many victims, demonstrated great poise, strength, understanding and compassion.

I remember watching the events unfold on the football field back in 2011 and 2012 on the college football field, but I had no idea the trauma he was experiencing. Heck, very very few people did and I really appreciate Manti telling his story in the documentary. I also can appreciate Ronaiah Tuiasosopo telling her story. Sheesh…it was rough listening to her talk about the lies she told, the innocent people she involved and the trauma and heartbreak she caused. I had to summon all of my compassion and emotional intelligence training to remain present, suspend judgement (most of the time), not get into a verbal fight with my brother over Manti being deceived, and watch the entire documentary. My wife was with us and she had to excuse herself before the end of the first episode.

Watch the documentary if you want to know more about the Manti Te’o and the entire series of unfortunate events.

I am writing to share a few of my fears that I hope don’t come true as a result of other men watching the documentary:

  1. 1. Trans people will be unfairly stereotyped as people who “catfish” straight men.
  2. 2. Men will perpetrate more harm on trans women.
  3. 3. Manti Te’o will not be remembered for his strength, compassion and resilience on the football field AND as a loving human-being in our western society.
  4. 4. News/media outlets will continue to speculate and destroy the lives of famous men (particularly those of color) who don’t prescribe to white supremacist, patriarchal, and capitalistic behaviors.

I am working with a team of Black men facilitators to create and curate spaces where Black Male Educators can discuss the topics/issues addressed in documentaries like this one, and so much more. In my workshops and trainings, we facilitate discussion on the following topics: 

  • – Interrogating Own Biases
  • – Understanding Power
  • – Engaging in Crucial Conversations 
  • – Examining Social Issues
  • – Understanding History of Racism and Core Constructs

We all have fears, assumptions and questions. But we all don’t have safe spaces to talk about them. 

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