Students talk about love at ISEC event

Martha Sales talks to attendees of the first chapter of her presentation series titled “Loving While Black” on Tuesday in DSU. “Just because you’ve been a victim, doesn’t mean you have to stay one.” said Sales. The series will discuss the importance of real love and what it takes to have healthy relationships.

Andrew Critchelow

With Valentine’s Day drawing close, WKU students discussed all things love Tuesday, taking part in the first chapter of Loving While Black, an event organized by the Intercultural Student Engagement Center. Held in Downing Student Union, this first presentation in the series was titled Chapter I: Foundations of Black Love.

The presenters of this event were Martha Sales, Executive Director of ISEC and WKU Trio Programs, and her husband, Rev. Shawn Sales. The couple discussed their ideas of what love is during the presentation and encouraged audience participation and viewpoints.

“You already know how to put each other down,” Martha Sales said near the beginning of the event, addressing the crowd. “You already know how trifling guys are. You already know how trifling females are. That’s not why we’re here. We’re for solution-oriented conversation.”

The event was part of a list of Black History Month events hosted by ISEC that will occur throughout February including WKU Black Trivia, Black Violin and Distinguished Minority Fellows Workshop.

The event started with an activity in which attendees were asked to leave their seats and split into groups that represented what they believed was most important in love. The four groups were “cash,” “force,” flesh” and “dependency.” When students split into their respective groups, Martha Sales explained to the audience that focusing too much on one area had consequences.

“If you’re only connected by one of these four, you are breeding unhealthy relationships,” Martha Sales said. “And based on what I hear you say, swinging through our office or talking to some of the older students who are in here, there are a whole lot of unhealthy relationships on college campus. That’s why we’re in Chapter One: Welcome to Loving While Black.”

After the audience returned to their seats, Martha and Shawn Sales began discussing some of the difficulties of finding love. Shawn Sales said many students have trouble finding love because they haven’t been exposed to healthy relationships.

“I came from a broken home,” Shawn Sales said. “If somebody would have asked me when I was your age ‘what does healthy love look like,’ I couldn’t have raised my hand either.”

The presenters then went on to ask the audience about their ideas of what love is. Students responded with answers such as “compromise,” “patience” and “commitment.” The presenters and audience members exchanged ideas about what love means to them.

The event concluded with the presenter’s idea of what the first chapter of the Loving While Black series is about, elaborating that self-love is essential.

“It’s going to be hard for you to love anybody else if you don’t love yourself,” Martha Sales said. “If you don’t know how to treat yourself, it’s going to be hard to be ask somebody else to give you that.”

Teran Sundy, graduate student at WKU, said attending the event was helpful for students to understand and discuss the topic of love in an open forum.

“I think it was very important that people got to understand self-love,” Sundy said. “I’m 25 and I’m still on this journey of self-love and trying to accept myself in order for someone else to love me. I feel like at this age it’s one of those things where a lot of people might miss out on that.”

Before the attendants left the event, Martha Sales requested the audience exercise self-love before attending the next installment of Loving While Black.

“I want you to think about what you have done lately to show yourself that you love yourself,” Martha Sales said. “…Next week is Valentine’s Day. Send yourself a Valentine’s card. If you want a rose, send yourself a rose. If there’s something you desire in someone else, invest in yourself. I know that sounds crazy but how can you recognize what love looks like if you don’t even love yourself?”

Reporter Andrew Critchelow can be reached at 270-745-6288 and [email protected].