Michael Rowe Photography
Nearly 12 months ago activist and Me Too movement founder, Tarana Burke’s life was turned inside out. While her grassroots work was known to numerous Black women, she quickly shot to the top of Hollywood’s radar, after actress Alyssa Milano tweeted “Me Too” in response to the outpouring of sexual assault stories being shared online. A viral hashtag was born soon after. The rest is history.
Now, is our time to heal and this November, Tarana Burke is the Guest Editor of a special issue of ESSENCE dedicated to doing just that. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 21 percent of Black women have been raped, and 38 percent have experienced other forms of sexual violence. Historically, our pain and suffering have been suppressed or ignored.
“As #MeToo became a viral hashtag this past year, we witnessed a watershed moment around the topic of sexual violence across the globe. We saw more public outcry from survivors and demands for accountability for perpetrators than ever before—but not for everyone,” she writes in her editor’s letter.
“As the founder of the ‘Me Too’ movement, which I originally started for US, I was pained to watch Black women, yet again, being erased from the narrative,” she continues. “I started doing this work because there were so few resources and recourses for us, which is why it cuts deep to hear sisters, who are largely responsible for my visibility, saying the current iteration of the #MeToo movement isn’t for them.”
In this special section of features, no topic surrounding sexual assault is off limits. In “The Culture Of Silence,” we come to grips with why now, more than ever, is the time to speak up and speak loudly about our pain. In “On The Ground” we learn about the women-led organizations on the front lines fighting for our communities. In “The Right To Heal” we learn to reclaim our bodies after trauma.
Long before viral hashtags, Burke has been putting in the work. Now, ESSENCE celebrates Burke’s fight to end sexual violence and her enduring battle to protect Black women.
Burke talks the past, present, and future of ‘Me Too’ and more in ESSENCE’s November issue on newsstands October 26.
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