Life Coaching



November 18, 2013

Putting Down Social Media at least for a Night (almost).

Just before Thanksgiving, the Georgetown University Women of Color and the Georgetown Men of Purpose chose to give finding relationships through social media and decided to meet face-to-face during the 3rd Annual Brown Sugar Relationship event. Diana Sainvil, coordinator of the event and President of the GU Women of Color felt something was lacking.

She stated, “I saw there was a separation in the minority community at Georgetown. Many men and women on campus had misconstrued notions about one another. I thought it will be a great idea to have Keith come in and enlighten the students on ways to live healthy relationships on campus. My goal of this event was to have the student body come together to discuss some the issues about relationships they were facing”

This event was going to be different. I, Keith Dent, as the moderator was about to shake things up in order to bring the sexes closer together. The reason, so many of our African American women are having a hard time finding a suitable African American man are due to several factors, but it can boil down to one major premise, having the courage, the perseverance, or strength to choose them.

This was evident in an article I read on Code Switch. A recent study on data from a dating app found all women except black women were most drawn to white men, and men of all races (with one notable exception) prefer Asian women.

Men Responding To Women

As a relationship coach for Strive 2 Succeed in Coaching, I resolved to do  something about it during this event.

I first had to get a sense of what the campus was like since it had been almost 25  years since I had spent that long of a time with the student body. So what better  place to see who was on campus by planting myself in the middle of the Leavey  Center, specifically Uncommon Grounds. What alarmed me most was the lack of  African American men around period. This would be paramount to the success of  the event if barriers around the lack of connection were going to be broken. So, I  had to mix a little old marketing technique like walking the campus, and new  ones, skewering the FB pages of GU students to make sure they knew the  importance of this meeting.

As the evening and we started to set up for the event, it wasn’t clear if we were  going to have a powerful discussion between both genders, or if I was going to stand in for the males. I even overheard chatter from the ladies, they said, “Figures! Where are the men?” I started to get nervous too. This would have never happened when my boys and I where on campus. Beautiful women, free food, and a discussion about relationships and sex would mean standing room only on the male side. Because we were hungry and horny.

Finally, as if the Pied Piper had acted on my behalf, the young men arrived. It was also thanks to a young brother Isaiah Jones based on a conversation I had on Facebook. We started off the night with an ice-breaker called “the line.” This icebreaker allows participants to appreciate what they have in common with others in the group.

Group Icebreaker

The next step was to get to the heart of the issue why there was a disconnect between the sexes when it came to relationships. The questions that sparked the discussions were as follows:

  • What are the assumptions, limiting-belief and interpretations that hold us back from having solid relationships.

  • —What are the biggest challenges you are facing on campus?

  • —What are some of the assumptions you make about the opposite sex & Relationships.

  • —What are the positives/downsides of Hooking-Up?

Female participants at Brown Sugar

The main theme from all the answers I received was based on the fact that they really didn’t know each  other and with the pressures of trying to excel on campus didn’t help when it came to relationships.

 I then went on to mention why the “Hook-up” culture affected their relationship interactions as they began  to enter adulthood and the workforce. I provided them with statistics based on the controversial book  Is    Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone, Stanford    law professor Ralph Richard Banks. Some of those statistics where met with awe and anger.

Male participants at Brown Sugar

  • —42% of you will never be married!

  • —By the time you reach your early 30’s, half of you will not be married!

  • —Black women are least likely to remarry after a divorce

  • —Women, when you graduate, you will have less opportunity to meet men on the same educational level.

We got to a point where the only way to break down the barriers was to have them talk to each other. So each man was given a colored card with a number on it. The exercise was to find a member of the opposite sex with a corresponding color and matching number.

The goal of the exercise was to find it information that would give them a better understanding of the person they were connecting with. So I asked them to ask these 5 questions.

  • What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened in your life?

  • What type of man are you looking for?

  • What are you inspired about?

  • What has been your biggest obstacle at Georgetown?

  • How can we as men make our relationships better?

This exercise really opened the eyes of some of the groups, and it help them to realize that sometimes they have to be vulnerable and openly communicate their wants and desires in order for their relationships to work.

As I closed out the evening, I offered these following tips for maintaining healthy relationships.

  1. Be aware of what you and your partner want for yourselves and what you want from the relationship.

  2. Let one another know what your needs are.

  3. Realize that your partner will not be able to meet all your needs. Some of these needs will have to be met outside of the relationship. I.e. friendship.

  4. Be willing to negotiate and compromise on the things you want from one another.

  5. Do not demand that a partner change to meet all your expectations. Work to accept the differences between your ideal mate and the real person you are dating.

  6. Try to see things from the other’s point of view. This doesn’t mean that you must agree with one another all the time, but rather that both of you can understand and respect each other’s differences, points of view, and separate needs.

  7. Where critical differences do exist in your expectations, needs, or opinions, try to work honestly and sincerely to negotiate. Seek professional help early rather than waiting until the situation becomes critical.

  8. Do your best to treat your partner in a way that says, “I love you and trust you, and I want to work this out.”

In the end, a connection was made and they didn’t have to use 140 characters to do it. All parties came away with the fact that open and honest communication is the key and have to be developed now, while there is nothing at stake.

Brown Sugar Babies

In fact this is what some of the students said about the evening:

George S. – “Learning diverse perspectives, viewpoints and thought processes of the opposite gender with regard to relationships truly broadened my understanding of their company.”

Amber M. – “Today I learned that I had to potentially participate in more conversations with the opposite sex not necessarily for the relationship, but just to better associate myself with all of those who are affiliated with my community. This could also help me and my pre-conceived notions about the opposite sex.”

Lamar H. – “I learned that just because I feel like my points, thoughts, and intentions are correctly understood, they might not be.”

Nona J. – “Really, Really get to know someone before communicating that you want more. Overall it was a great event and I can’t wait to Part 2.”