During this year's Golden Globe Awards, Hollywood, dressed in all black, spoke out about Time's Up, the women-led initiative advocating for equity and safety in the workplace across industries. (The campaign's Legal Defense Fund, which stood at $19.1 million at press time, continues to grow.)
Producer Shonda Rhimes, actress Tracee Ellis Ross and lawyer Nina Shaw are among the prominent players on the front lines. A few weeks following the official launch of Time's Up (January 1), Shaw discussed the mission, the part Black women will play and how we all can effect change.
ESSENCE: Since its start, the campaign has become the talk of Tinseltown. Were you surprised?
NINA SHAW: We were pleased that there was so much support. It indicates the tremendous need and desire for solutions that make it possible for all of us to move ahead.
ESSENCE: What is the relationship between Me Too and Time's Up?
SHAW: Like all activists we at Time's Up stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. We owe a tremendous debt to Tarana Burke, who created the Me Too movement to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of sexual abuse and assault. While we are separate, we are aligned in wanting to see change that makes abuse something of the past.
ESSENCE: What is the role of Black women in this campaign?
SHAW: We have historically been fierce advocates for ourselves and leaders in all civil rights movements. We continue to do so as part of Time's Up. For example, Anita Hill, whose leadership is so vital, chairs The Commission for the Elimination of Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equity in the Workplace.
ESSENCE: How can men participate in Time's Up?
SHAW: They are important allies in the fight for parity and gender equality. We will only achieve it if men join us. We all benefit if everyone is in the room.
ESSENCE: What can we do individually to make a difference?
SHAW: We need to talk to one another honestly—at home, our places of worship and the workplace—about the impact of sexual harassment. We can stop engaging in behaviors we know are wrong, and call people out when we hear or see bad behavior. We must also acknowledge that, as people of color, we have an obligation to support one another.
Applications for legal aid through the Time's Up fund can be submitted at nwlc.org.
This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of ESSENCE Magazine, on stands now.