#MeToo is a movement for us, and most importantly, by us. But it wasn’t intended that way. Tarana Burke founded the #MeToo movement with women in mind, no specifics. And if we’re being all the way honest, this movement is for survivors, not just women.
And even though Burke’s been doing this advocacy work for over 10 years, it was Alissa Milano’s tweets that helped catapult the hashtag into a full-blown movement. While Milano’s intentions weren’t to steal away all of Burke’s tireless and thankless work, her star power managed to shine bright on this awful topic of conversation.
Maybe this is why many Black women feel left out of this movement, because the actual creator of it has been marginalized by the very movement she spawned. Burke told ESSENCE exclusively, “The world responds to the vulnerability of white women. Our narrative has never been centered in mainstream media. Our stories don’t get told and as a result, it makes us feel not as valuable.”
Racism’s powerful hold on our society rears its ugly head when it comes to sexual violence, which is why Burke has spent a lot of her time ensuring Black women that #MeToo is not only by a Black woman, it’s for us too.
It’s often the little Black girls who were taught to remain silent if they’d ever been touched or looked at in a lustful manner. When Burke came to the ESSENCE office, she opened up about the learned behavior of protecting Black men, even when it means that you’re not protecting yourself.
“I was 6-years-old when I decided not to tell my stepfather what happened to me.” I was scared of two things: I was going to get in trouble because I shouldn’t have been in these places and my (step) father was going to do something. So I just was quiet,” Tarana shared.
Check out the full interview with Tarana above, as she tackles Black men’s response to #MeToo and her own journey to healing.