The Building a Better Man Project
When audiences see Drs. William Seymour, Ramel Smith, and Hector Torres on stage together, they take notice immediately. These are three very different looking men from three very different places. But they are all saying the same things about broadening the definition of American masculinity…building a better man in a way that reduces the worst and increases the best men have to offer. These talks have had a powerful effect on people…from kids to healthcare professionals to prisoners…because of not only the subject matter, but also the candid and unique manner in which it is presented. They are not afraid to take on controversial topics such as the role of white male privilege in America, the prison-industrial complex, and gay rights.
One might ask what these individuals could possibly have in common, other than the fact that they are all men. The answer is “much,” for that very reason. As boys and young men, Drs. Seymour, Smith, and Torres were all socialized according to similar standards of masculinity prescribed for them by American society…be tough, be stoic, acquire things, and rely on no one. Their backgrounds and environments were radically different, but their common experiences had these standards at their core.
It wasn’t until random chance brought them together that they discovered a common interest in the subject of masculinity and the socialization of males. As three helping professionals working with a wide variety of families in Milwaukee, they saw all too often how fatherless sons, single mothers, and ignored daughters were affected by the worst in men. And how, in general, aggressive and emotionally-stunted men set the tone in families and communities.
These three men are looking to reach more people with their message of change. They present this message in a dynamic, engaging manner that weaves their compelling personal stories – their strengths and shortcomings as men – into an exploration of aggression and masculinity in the socialization of American boys.
In short, they are asking the question: Can we as men “get the ‘ene-me’ out of me” so that a less violent and more verdant American society is possible?