Tarana Burke and Me Too Movement: More Than Just A Hashtag

Tarana Burke, founder of #MeToo, talks about her life before and after the #MeToo movement. 

2 min read
Tarana Burke and Me Too Movement: More Than Just A Hashtag

On the 15 October, 2017, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted a request to her followers:

If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.

The results were overwhelming. Within 24 hours, the tweet had over thousands of stories of sexual harassment including stories by celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Viola Davis.

In the days that followed, many people and organisations credited the actress with creating the entire movement.

That came as a shocker to Tarana Burke: the woman who had actually started the ‘Me Too’ movement many years ago.

Burke started the “Me Too” movement as a voice for black women survivors of sexual harassment. Years later when the #MeToo movement gained ground on Twitter, she was shocked at the casual easing of her work. 

Before and After #MeToo

In a tweet thread, Burke goes on to explain how she felt after finding that #MeToo had gone viral and how she later realised that it had happened for the best.

Tarana goes on to mention that Milano got in touch with her, apologised and asked how she could amplify the work. Later, a speech of her’s from 2014 went viral and people finally took notice.

She also thanked other African-American women and allies who supported her previous work.

Although Tarana Burke realised that her work had not been co-opted in Twitter conversation around ‘Me Too’, she was happy that it had allowed countless women to speak up.

In another tweet, Burke states she finally realised that she need not worry about her ‘work’, it was happening in front of her. She also extended her support to all the survivors.


India’s #MeToo

In India women have started calling out men for their predatory behavior. It is being called India’s #MeToo movement. Prominent journalists, comedians, actors are being called out almost every day. However, there are also some voices that are saying that this movement is only centric to people with access to internet.

But as Burke rightly points out, it’s not about who started it or who had the idea; it’s about empowering survivors to talk about their experiences. With the current coverage, we can hope that it becomes bigger, reaches more people, empowers more people and as Burke rightly says, the work is happening in front of our eyes, and that’s what is important.

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