By Kimberlee Buck, Staff Writer, Los Angeles Sentinel
“Nearly seven out of ten Black women are unmarried at any given time, and as many as three out of ten will never marry,” said KeepingIt100 CFO, Lynn Beatty. “Marriage has also declined among Black men, fewer than half of whom are husbands. African Americans have the lowest rate of getting married and the highest rate of getting a divorce. So, when you look at those two opposing statistics, that means there’s not a lot of Black marriages that are surviving.
Recently, the Los Angeles Sentinel discussed Black marriage statistics with KeepingIt100 founder Kerry Neal and the organizations CFO Beatty, about what the organization is doing to bridge the Black dating divide.
According to Neal, KeepingIt100 is “a social event where men and women come together to respond honestly to randomly selected, pre-scripted, open-ended questions regarding relationship dynamics. KeepingIt100 is a social change movement focused on debunking and demystifying relationship dynamics between men and women in an effort to bridge a healthier understanding between the sexes,” he said.
Keeping It100 was created by Black men and women for Black men and women. The non-profit organization prides itself in providing a safe space for Black men and women to have honest and open communication about some of the generational myths each gender has about the other.
The inception of Keeping It100, began after a singles ministry at Neal’s church ended.
“You had this group of unmarried singles who were looking for activities that would help to stimulate their singles experience, but obviously one of the things that was a driver was for them to meet their future spouse,” said Neal.
The same group started coming together to discuss the single life and the challenges they faced with the opposite sex and which gender was doing something wrong when it came to dating. During these conversations, which usually lead to heated debates, Neal began to notice a reoccurring theme of both men and women making unhealthy assumptions about one another. This lead to Neal creating a game called KeepingIt100. The game is designed to generate a space to debunk dating myths.
After Neal moderated several games, he decided to make KeepingIt100 a non-profit organization.
KeepingIt100 was originally established in the Inland Empire eight years ago and has been in the city of Los Angeles for four years. Currently, the organization has resulted in two marriages, three engagements, and hundreds of dates.
“We’ve had several marriages and exclusive relationships credited to us from hosting these events, which is really reflective of our ultimate goal. When we have stronger Black relationships, we have stronger Black communities,” said Neal.
How does it work? The organization holds moderated dialogues quarterly at special events. Each event has special guest speakers, like psychologists, matchmakers, and other experts to express their insight during the discussion.
During the event, questions are posed to mixed audience of married couples and single attendees. At the end of each event, eventgoers are encouraged to stay for the “after party” where attendees can continue conversations about the topics discussed, dance, listen to music and of course, mingle.
“We realized, that in order to give some meat to what we are trying to accomplish, we need to bring in some professionals,” said KeepingIt100 co-lead moderator, Lynn Beatty.
“There are a number of well-educated Black professionals with the scientific information, the data, and the experience around Black relationships that will lend that level of expertise to the conversation. There is a lot of opinion out there what we needed was for professionals to come out and be informants and give us real information so that we weren’t always kind of working off our emotion.”
Aside from the regularly scheduled special events, KeepingIt100 provides masterclasses on dating. On September 15 and 29 attendees will learn:
- how-to-date in the 21st century
- the online dating do’s and don’ts
- when to expect being exclusive and engaged
- Break-ups and divorces: when to start dating again
- How to show interest without seeming desperate
- Dating outside of your race
- Dating and emotional readiness
- Social media and dating
- Single parent dating
- What is dating?
The event will be led by author, life coach, and spiritual advisor, Donald Bell at the Playa Vista Public Library from 10am-1pm. Register for the KeepingIt100 Master Class by heading over to datingmasterclass.eventbrite.com. For more information on the organization and to attend one of their events please visit http://keepingit100la.org/ and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.