D.L. Chandler

The Black Woman Who Actually Created The Me Too Campaign

 

Tarana Burke, an activist and creator of a nonprofit organization that assists sexual harassment and assault victims, created a “Me Too” campaign long before the #MeToo social media hashtag moving about in recent times. Burke, the founder of Just Be, Inc., was profiled by the New York Times and explained how she came to create the campaign working to further the message sparked by actress Alyssa Milano.

The Times writes:

In 1997, Tarana Burke sat across from a 13-year-old girl who had been sexually abused. The young girl was explaining her experience, and it left Ms. Burke speechless. That moment is where the Me Too campaign was born.

“I didn’t have a response or a way to help her in that moment, and I couldn’t even say ‘me too,’ ” Ms. Burke said.

“It really bothered me, and it sat in my spirit for a long time,” she added.

Ten years after that conversation, Ms. Burke created Just Be Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps victims of sexual harassment and assault. She sought out the resources that she had not found readily available to her 10 years before and committed herself to being there for people who had been abused.

And she gave her movement a name: Me Too.

On Sunday, those two words burst into the spotlight of social media with #metoo, a hashtag promoted by the actress Alyssa Milano. Amid the firestorm that ignited, some women of color noted pointedly that the longtime effort by Ms. Burke, who is black, had not received support over the years from prominent white feminists.

As the publication notes, the movement took hold rapidly online in the wake of Milano’s tweet and the allegations that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has abused his powerful position to abuse and harass women. Further, women of color who looked to support the movement felt that Burke’s credit was getting buried and that the movement’s intention began to shift radically.

Burke added in the Times profile that Milano has since reached out to her and has properly credited her as the originator of the “Me Too” term while announcing plans to work together in the future.

Read the full profile on Tarana Burke here.

Photo: JustBeInc.org

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