When Christian Guerrier was growing up in Haiti, he saw his neighbors’ experiences divided by gender. “I would listen to women in the neighborhood talk about how the men were not able to understand their pain and suffering,” he explains.
Years later in Miami, Guerrier is working to change that. In 2009 he founded The Millenials Project, which aims to help end domestic violence by empowering men to be better men. He also hosts Among Us Men, a monthly forum for men to come together and discuss issues of gender equality and self-improvement.
Guerrier attributes his inspiration to his mother. She grew up on a farm in Haiti, and her father didn’t feel educating his daughter was a worthy investment. So his mother took her future into her own hands. At 12, she left her father’s house and moved to Port-Au-Prince in search of a better life. From there, she began working as a maid, while saving the money to eventually start her own business.
His experiences led him to a deeper understanding of the challenges women faced in his community. And he realized that if men were committed to becoming better and standing up for women, domestic violence and disrespect of women could quickly recede. And so he launched The Millennials Project.
Standing together against domestic violence
According to Guerrier and participants, the meetings create a safe space where they can be themselves and can learn how to grow into the type of men they want to see in the world.
“We talk about becoming more humble and more true to ourselves,” Guerrier explains. “Society puts pressure on men to do things a certain way in order to be seen as manly. We want to change the culture to accept that there are many different types of men and to elevate the culture to promoting a higher type of manhood — one where men are in touch with their feminine sides and promote gender equality.”
“At the meetings, we bring awareness to the way our society treats women and girls,” explains Ishmel Williams, who has been coming to the Among Us Men meetings since day one. The group is dedicated to combating the disproportionate impact domestic violence and human trafficking have on women, both here and abroad.
Discussions cover a wide range of topics, including their own challenges in communicating with women, domestic violence situations they may have witnessed or heard about, and the ways women inspire them, as well as supporting each other.
“What’s important to me,” says Williams, “is that through the meetings each of us can make a difference in at least one person’s life. That’s one more person with less heartache.”
Williams has already been able to make that impact through attending the meetings. “I never thought I’d be involved in a domestic violence issue, but because of the meetings, I was able to help a very close relative become aware of the danger, and possibly loss of life, that a violent situation she was in could have lead to,” Williams shares. He ended up talking to his relative and showing her “Death in Plain Sight,” a short documentary about homicides linked to domestic violence that he’d seen at Among Us, helping her to recognize the seriousness of her situation.
Another regular meeting attendee, William Broadus, is similarly grateful for the growth the meetings have provided him. “I have definitely become a better man through the meetings,” he asserts. “They’re non-judgmental spaces that allow you to express any challenging situations you are in and learn to distil strong values in yourself. I’ve received mentorship, inspiration, become a better communicator, and learned from other men’s stories at the meetings.”
Broadus says the men at the meetings are all “real models” to each other, because rather than being perfect “role models” they show their imperfections and their strengths.
One wing flying
“The men of the past have made huge mistakes, and right now we’re paying for these mistakes,” Guerrier explains. “They did not acknowledge that humanity is like a bird of two wings, male and female, and if a bird is going to fly it cannot only fly with one wing. It needs both. Unfortunately, in past centuries only one wing has been flying, and as a result, humanity has never been able to reach its full potential. So our biggest challenge is to help the other wing, which is the female, so we can be equal, so the bird can fly to the next level.”
If you share Guerrier’s vision and passion for supporting women, are challenged by a domestic violence situation, or simply want to be in a group of men committed to their own growth, the Among Us Men participants invite you to join the conversation by attending a meeting. “Just come in knowing you’re allowed to be yourself. We’re there for each other,” says Broadus.
The meetings take place the first Thursday of every month from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m at the Miami-Dade C.V.A.C. office at 2400 South Dixie Highway. The next meeting will happen August 6th.
The Millennials Project will co-host two conferences in the fall addressing domestic violence and gender equality. You can follow the organization on twitter at @Better_men to stay up on what’s ahead.