The only man in the room

Christian Guerrier is on a mission to challenge men. The self-described feminist recently became the first male member of the Miami-Dade Commission for Women for his work on women’s equality and ending domestic violence through The Millennials Project, a Miami-based organization he founded in 2009.

Between 2010 and 2014, the Miami-Dade Police recorded almost 25,000 cases of domestic violence, making it the county with the highest rate of domestic violence in the state. Guerrier wants to end that, and knows he can only do that with the support of fellow men.

We spoke with him to learn about how that felt, what inspires him, and why he thinks this work is so important.

On the first Thursday of every month, Guerrier hosts a community meeting called Among Us Men. The goal is to foster discussion about preventing violence against women. Today’s meeting will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m at the Miami Dade C.V.A.C. office at 2400 South Dixie Highway.

What does The Millennials Project do?

I partnered with Miami-Dade County a year and a half ago because Miami has one of the highest rates of domestic violence victims in the country. My mission is to recruit 25,0000 men in Miami-Dade as allies, this will position Miami as a leader for social change in the 21st century.

I host a monthly meeting called Among Us Men, which happens on the first Thursday of every month, to bring men into this conversation, to elevate male consciousness, and to prevent violence against women. It’s all about bringing men together to prevent violence against women and make the community a safer place.

My next big project is the launching of Miami’s Most Interesting Man series. On Tuesday, which was my birthday, we started the “Miami’s Most Interesting Man” campaign — it’s a monthly networking event. The goal is to bring the community together to support and highlight high profile leaders we have in our movement.

Happy belated birthday! Why did you schedule this event to fall on your birthday?

There are two big days in your life: When you’re born, and when you discover the reason why. I consider myself a big feminist and I think feminism is misused a lot in mainstream culture. I’m an advocate for gender equality, and my goal is to to make Miami a richer place for women. This is more than my full time job, it’s my life.

What inspired you to lead this movement?

I was born in Haiti and the first person who actually impacted and inspired me is my mom. Being a woman in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere is challenging. It became very clear to me that in fact, women are the ones who keep the country moving.

I remember when I was a teenager I was walking by a street vendor who was carrying a basket on her head — this is common in Haiti — she was mumbling to herself and she said “The suffering of women comes from men.”

That stuck with me. We live in a culture when men are unable to empathize with and advocate for women. I was 16 when I moved to America, and when you come from a poor country and move to a rich country, it’s kind of a cultural shock.

But after I got used to my new environment and learned the language — I was hearing something similar. The voices of women crying out for justice and men not empathizing. This really helped me connect the dots — Men are contributing to women’s suffering, whether that’s conscious or unconscious.

What changed that?

The majority of the victims of domestic violence are women and this is a huge barrier to social progress and economic development. I don’t see a meaningful future for any of us if we do not all address it. I looked at myself and my own personal life and by not acting against it, yes I’d been unconsciously contributing to women’s pain and suffering.

When President Obama was elected and begin demanding equal pay for equal work, I was really inspired. He was elected in 2008 and I started The Millennials Project in 2009 — it’s a generational mission to achieve gender equity.

All of my male friends and family are part of the movement. And I’m seeing more and more men slowly but surely joining me. They see the passion and the authenticity — and I’m challenging them. Men have to challenge other men to be better.

You’ve also recently been named the first male in history on the Miami-Dade Commission for Women. How does that feel?

For me, it’s a new territory. My first meeting was in March and I’m honored. It’s an opportunity to learn more and listen more to the challenges that women are facing. When men start to listen to those challenges, the world will be a better place — so I see this as an opportunity to listen and learn. It was just the first meeting, so I’m still learning, but I’ve already heard about the great work Lotus House is doing, and I’m looking forward to supporting them.

It’s an unbelievable honor — I never thought that on this journey I’d be meeting with such influential women leaders, as a fellow leader, supporter, and ally.