Love doesn’t see color. I don’t think that statement can stand in today’s society when everything is based on color, race, ethnicity, class or anything else man can conjure up. I believe it is the very essence of what love is, the embracing of the difference of two people, it represents – you are what I am not, thus I love that about you and I want to spend the rest of my life exploring the beauty of what makes you, you. That is my fantasy. I often find it fascinating to engage with couples who find their way in this world, so focused on causing division or rather promoting division.
Through it all somehow people still fall in love, build families, and thrive in a society that is so broken- that you know it is true love. This is not to say that it is an easy road, and there are not obstacles to face. Nor do I think that any interracial couple can tell you they have not experienced some sort of adversity in their union, from family members, friends, strangers and the media. But their decision to stick it out, fight for it until death do you part is the ultimate sacrifice for love.
Please allow me to introduce you to a couple I briefly met some years ago. I met Todd at Melky Jean’s wedding, she is the sister of famed Haitian-Artist Wyclef Jean. This charming young man, had a presence, but his charisma was what his friends seemed to love most about him. We became Facebook friends, and I started noticing the wonderful pictures and posting of he and his beloved Brandi, a beautiful brown woman with a radiant smile. His joy being with her was refreshing, to say the least. What fascinated me most was his Jewish background, which to some can be a challenge but it did not seem to bother either of them.
Fast forward to the birth of their son, their pictures showed that their love continued to blossom, literally. But tragedy and reality set in as the reflection of young black men getting murdered and the need to protect their loved ones. One day I noticed that Todd had posted one of the most brilliant, heart felt, an ugly-cry letter that left me shivering and as a parent I literally feel his pain. Somewhat like what Matthew McCaugney did in a Time To Kill, he described the vicious scene of the violation of the daughter of Samuel L. Jackson, then describing her as a little white girl. It shocked the crowd and the audience viewing it. It hit home. That is what Todd’s love letter did for me.
Then fast forward, he announces his marriage, and his second child’s upcoming birth. This man was devoted to his family and we knew we had to cover their love story. Quite honestly, right now we need to show the reality of the world- it is diverse and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it.
So with great pleasure we introduce you to Mr. & Mrs. Michaels
Brandi Rochel Paul and Todd Jordan Michael
She: Black American from Texas, He: Jewish American from Miami.
She: Insurance Consultant, He: Attorney
How did you meet?
Our history is unique, and is my favorite part of our story. I like to joke that we did everything backwards: We met, got divorced, had a child, and then got married. We first met at a Miami Heat game in 2008. I was there with my dad, and she was there with a girlfriend. We had a mutual friend, and both went down to meet him in the Grey Goose Lounge. A few months later, I met up with our mutual friend to watch a football game, and he mentioned that Brandi had asked about me. I got her number from him and we started talking. We hit it off really quickly and instantly. In August of 2010, we had our first child. We then hit some bumps in the road, most of which were my fault…I had a little growing up to do. Through it all, we loved each other, and were both excellent parents. Our story is truly a testament to perseverance. We worked through our issues, and got engaged in the early part of 2016. Soon after, we found out that our second child was on the way. We decided not to tell any of our friends, and had a small private wedding on May 28, 2016. Brandi thought it was just going to be us and our parents, but I surprised her and flew our siblings and her two childhood best friends in to join the celebration. It was a really unique, and perfect day.
What was your inspiration behind the wedding?
Family, no doubt about it.
What was the most important thing for you when planning the wedding?
Since we were doing a small wedding, I wanted to make sure that Brandi felt like nothing was missing.
Where did you get married?
We got married at a private home in Coconut Grove, owned by David and Barbara Lipman. David and Barbara are good friends of my parents, and were very important influences on me growing up. David was a civil rights lawyer who moved to Mississippi to do Civil Rights work in the 1960’s, and has been a huge influence on my life. David also performed the ceremony.
What did she wear? What did you wear?
BRANDI: I wore a Rivini gown which was purchased in Houston at Mia Bridal Boutique. It was absolutely perfect for an outdoor ceremony. They were able to rush the order and get it to me in time for the ceremony and a local Miami seamstress was able to make it fit perfectly around the bump!
TODD: A friend’s wife works for J. Hilburn, a company that makes custom suits, so I buy my suits through them. I wore a black on black pinstripe suit by J. Hilburn.
What does love mean to you?
TODD: To me, love means contentment. It means trust and teamwork. It means always knowing that you have each other’s back, and never quitting, under any circumstances. We had the unique situation of being a family before we were married, and love also means family. It also means laughing a lot. The world can be a serious, sad, and heartbreaking place, and none of that belongs in our house. You have to leave the world behind when you walk in the front door and laugh…a lot.
BRANDI: Todd hit the nail right on the head!
Todd’s love letter to his black son, and America on a fathers love and fear
There was nothing more important than having Ashton in the wedding. He is our world. He was the best man, the ring bearer, the entertainment, my assistant, and everything else.
“I’ve spent 38 years as a white boy and man in America. Actually, a Jewish man, but I’m not usually identified as a Jew, living in a place full of Jews, and I have never faced a minute of anti-semitism. I can tell you, being a white man in America is good. It’s great. It’s all that it’s cracked up to be. The opportunity is limitless. The fear is minimal. I’ve never spent one day as a black boy or man.
But, I have spent 5 years and 4 months as the father of a black boy. An amazing boy. A smart, funny, talented, cute, sweet boy who has significant opportunity and privilege, and doesn’t know any boundaries on what he can achieve. A boy that I’ve been able to protect thus far from the realities that a child like Tamir Rice has had to face. But I know I can’t protect him forever, and I know that at some point, and maybe at many points, he will face a different experience as a boy or man in America.
I’ve spent a lot of those five years worrying. I never think about race. It’s never a conscious thought that the world sees me as white father with my son as black or mixed, or whatever. I’m just his dad, and he’s just my son. But I think about it when things like Tamir Rice happen. And it makes me worry.
It makes me worry because I know that as Ashton grows, when he walks down the street, people won’t say, “there goes Todd Michaels’ son.” A lot of people will just see a black guy walking down the street, with all that there is so much that goes along with that.
It’s only been five years and four months, and I’m exhausted of worrying. I can’t imagine the anger I would feel if I had to face that reality everyday.
So yes, all lives matter, but we don’t have to say that, because no one has ever questioned that white lives matter. But black lives matter too. They matter equally. And until this country gets that in word and deed, America can never be what it claims to be. ”
Honoring Tradition In The Name Of Love
Todd: We break the glass to remind ourselves that even though it is a joyous occasion we live in an imperfect world. Even in good times, it is our duty to remember to work to make the world a better place for those who are less fortunate.
We both know who we are and where we come from. It is important to us that our union and our children understand the totality of their legacies and their histories.
A mothers message of love “To Ashton, I would say to always embrace everything that you are.”