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An Invitation to the Gentleman’s Club: The Black Love Summit Husbands Panel
by Leah Sumner
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July 30, 2019

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15 Minute Read

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An Invitation to the Gentleman’s Club: The Black Love Summit Husbands Panel

It was a sneak peak into the Gentleman’s Club, as the men of the Husbands Panel talked sex sessions, breaking generational curses, and how to win a fight.

One by one the Husbands arrive, but something was hindering them from kicking things off. The men were taking their time as the audience was quietly peering at the ongoings near the stage. As I observed the movements and motions on stage left, I thought to myself, is something wrong? Technical difficulties? Someone missing? 

Finally, the special guest had arrived — Whiskey! There was a glass for each of the panelists: Tommy Oliver, Devale Ellis, Tommicus “Tommi” Walker, DJ Fadelf, and Warryn Campbell. Actor, producer, and moderator for the day, Dondré Whitfield chanted, “Peer Pressure! Peer Pressure! Peer Pressure!” The glasses clink, the bourbon is tossed back, and thus marked the start of the Gentlemen’s Club, I mean, The Husband Panel.  

Though, to say it was a Gentleman’s Club was not far off, as, as the panel roared on, it was clear that the audience was being allowed into the kind of conversation only privy to men within the confines of the inner circle of their very close confidants, a fact highlighted when Tommy said that time to speak honestly with the boys was needed, because: “We love our women, but they can drive us fucking crazy!”  

“We love our women, but they can drive us fucking crazy!”

And at the top of the list for how to survive being “driven crazy” was:  

How to Win an Argument

In dealing with those crazy moments of conflict, Tommy imparted his point of view, “You can be happy, or you can be Right!  Choose one!”  

Music Producer Warryn Campbell chimed in, as men, a lot of times “we remain in our argument with our women.” Which is a major form of self-sabotage in relationships! No matter how right you are, “she’s gonna come up with some kind of way” of proving you wrong. For instance, expressing that it’s not really what you said but a matter of how you said it. Wayne’s answer, “I’ll just wait until everything’s calm and she’s happy.” He goes on to say that he “separates” and “compartmentalizes” his argument by inserting his point of view casually throughout the day. By the time we go to bed he says, that final point is driven home, “I’m right and I’m sleep!” He imitates turning his back to his wife and passing out! During the Panel discussion, all of the men shared ways they’ve learned to survive disagreements with their wives.  

It turns out that it’s Survival of the Fittest!

Related: Sex, Laughs and Lasting Love at the 2019 Black Love Summit

Tommi expressed his need to have a “Win!” and referenced his years of playing football. He described that in an argument, “I don’t think I ever heard my wife apologize.” He also uncovered that victories don’t always have to be acknowledged by both parties, claiming, “I win in my head.”

Dondré had a lot to say on the matter, “You’re either fighting to be right or righteous!” The moderator spoke as if he were the marriage guru. “We’re not supposed to think alike… Our perspectives are different. Our anatomy is different.” He went on to explain why this works: “We complement each other.” The panelists continued to flow on the idea that, in marriage, if one lacks, the other fills in the void, and in a perfect world this well-oiled machine flows smoothly! It’s up to us to oil the machine and keep up maintenance schedule.

Dondré enlightened us further by saying, “I used to think my wife was a nuisance to me as a man, what I really figured out was that, my wife was sent to me by God as a nutrient.”  

“We’re not supposed to think alike… Our perspectives are different. Our anatomy is different.”

This causes the crowd to react as if we all had one huge, unified ah-ha moment! The conversation persisted as he let us into his thoughts of “Is she murdering you right now?” during conflicts with his wife.

He paralleled his fight in the home, with his fight in the world and revealed, “If I can master my wife, I can master my life!” This theme of self-mastery was highlighted by each of these men at several different points throughout the afternoon.

“You know what Baby, I’ll take that you’re right, my fault.” Dondré accounts of a potential altercation with his wife recently. He noted: “It’s really not my fault!” and rampages on “You can only argue with someone who is arguing with you!”  

Tommy hesitated to agree and later confessed, “Bro, I get in trouble for not arguing!”  

Husbands Panel

A friendly debate ensued and Dondré challenged Tommy, “Who’s the man of your house?” Devale took a jab at Dondré, calling him an “old man” as the senior of the group. Devale cleaned things up by explaining, that perspective only comes from wisdom. “How did you get there?” Devale asked.  

These gentlemen continued to not only impart their wisdom, but got curious and challenged each other.

Dondré explained, “We don’t have to emotionally scar each other,” by succumbing to that “I‘m proving that she is the stronger one.” By letting his wife win, he feels it’s “Elevating my own manhood.” We all roar in agreement! 

“For me, there is really no right and wrong,” Devale expanded, “it’s her perspective and my perspective.” He continued vivaciously, “We really don’t always have to agree because, at some point, I’m going to want to have sex.” And, with that statement, we entered, what the Husbands would refer to as the “Sex Session.”

The Sex Session — How do you want it?

Now that Devale introduced the topic of Sex, Wayne couldn’t help but beg for clarification, “You dropped a bombshell!” 

“We really don’t always have to agree because, at some point, I’m going to want to have sex.” 

“If I continue to push an argument forward, it’s never going to happen the way I want it to happen,” unveils Devale.  

“No one of us really likes the tune-up!” Whines Wayne. “I don’t want it. Like she’s sleepy. She has a scarf on her head.” 

Devale asked the panel: “Men like having sex. Right?” When you choose a wife, you choose one person to be intimate with the way they want, how they want, and when they want. He has adapted a completely selfless mindset on the issue for completely selfish reasons “The Sex Session is only good if she’s happy.” He pleads that in order to keep his wife open he needs to keep his wife open.  

“My purpose in life is to make her happy! Happy wife, happy LIFE!”

He shouts adamantly –– there is a sense that he’s seen the other side of that statement.

Related: How I Learned to Be an All-Star Husband at the 2018 Black Love Summit

Warryn goes on about how nobody wants a subpar session, though he quickly interjects with “I’ll take it!” Tommi concedes with “Sometimes you got to get in where you fit in.” 

For the Husbands, it all seemed to come down to this: “We’re a team!” says Dondré.  

And you have to treat each other like you are on the same team. The Husbands agreed that the mentality of “I’m a boss!” was the wrong approach — that thinking creates conflict instead of unity.

The Husbands agreed that the mentality of “I’m a boss!” was the wrong approach 

“Systematically the Black family has been divided,” Devale said. He explained, “I grew up with my father and my grandfather and my great grandfather in the home.” He referenced the trending term ‘generational wealth’ and noted that many Black families don’t have that. “We have generational depression.”

Devale started to wrap things up by saying becoming a father is what changed him.  

“Women are greater than us because they can bring life into the world,” he boasted. He stressed how men need to honor that fact and advised, you must find in your wife a woman who “makes you feel that need to want to learn her” with that, a “deeper love” is found, something beyond physical, when you attempt to understand a woman in that way.

Warryn continues on about ‘emotional intelligence’ and the polarity of the two words, “Your emotions are not intelligent. You have to train your emotions. You have to raise them like a child.” He goes on to explain that the “first thing that you want to say is usually the wrong thing! [You react and] you haven’t had time to process things yet.” It’s a challenge that has to be put into practice! He later relates the war on having control over emotions and anger to his experience observing the gang crisis in LA. “It looked like ‘I want to stab you’, ‘I want to kill’, because that’s how they were raised.” That anger mixed with male testosterone is very much like a “Ticking time bomb!”

Dondré concludes “Brothers, we got to be there for each other.” He talks of how the women counterparts are at building community and references a party he and his wife attended. The men and women separate. After consultation with his wife later that night, he questioned, “You talked about your childhood?” while the men just discussed the game. We punish by putting ourselves in “solitary confinement” and instead we should open up, “creating spaces of accountability” for one another. Dondré opens up with a group of his best friends where the space is welcome for advice like “I think you should go home, and I think you should apologize to your wife!” 

Tommi opened up and asked the audience how many of them were raised by single mothers. Overwhelmingly, over half of the crowd raised their hands. Tommi said, “I was raised by a single parent mother as well,” and expressed how he looked for a mentor in his uncle. He needed someone to emulate, “I wanted to break the curse!”

“You’re raising someone else’s husband.”

A question from a single mother in the audience implores the men on how to approach a “telephone father.” She knows he feels like he has raised his son because he calls and sends money in lieu of time. It’s not enough, and she can see that her son still has Daddy issues.

“He’s doing the best that he can. Your job right now is to find him a supplement.” Dondré states matter-of-factly. Such a statement shows how the brotherhood extends beyond this panel. While it’s not an excuse, there is an understanding among the brotherhood that some men were not shown how to be a father. While the brotherhood has to be created, the women have a vital role to play in this as well. Devale notes the responsibility, “You’re raising someone else’s husband” and directs her to seek out community groups that provide mentorship to young men like his in New York.

Related: Hey Black Dads, We’ve Got Your Back!

As the evening rolled to a close it was clear, this panel was not only guy talk on the secret lives of husbands, it was an insight into the fact that one can be a better man through a proactive approach of loving your wife, standing for legacy, and truly elevating your own manhood by cultivating another’s.  

I’ll drink to that.

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