Tarana Burke is a real one. As the founder of The ‘me too.’ Movement, she has planted herself in the middle of a hostile society and demanded Black women and girls be seen and heard and centered as survivors of sexual violence. She created a movement around addressing their trauma, nurturing their healing and encouraging them to thrive in the world. She’s done this work years before the masses were familiar with ‘me too.’ Burke took up this work because it was was necessary and Black girls’ lives are dependent on it. After four years of public facing, ‘me too.’ has bloomed alongside its founder, it continues on to evolve as she “lays the foundation to pass the torch” because that’s how movement work is done. She’s given much of herself to us, and to whom much is given much is required. Here’s what nine thought leaders have to say in honor of Tarana and The ‘me too’ Movement.
Allie McGevna, SVP, Content, iOne
The ‘me too.’ Movement demonstrates the power of women who come together with the goal of protecting their sisters. While many have tried to co-opt or manipulate the movement’s message, the work of Tarana Burke and her team speaks for itself. While this may be the anniversary of the movement becoming part of the common discourse, the mission of ‘me too.’ — to protect Black and brown women and girls — is a sacred one with a significant history and future ahead.
Bruce Wright, Managing Editor, News One
Four years after the ‘me too’ Movement’s start, one thing should be abundantly clear by now: We need to believe women. That is especially true for Black women, who have a solid history of leading activism against sexual violence despite being among the most disrespected people in this nation. That need to believe women is slowly becoming ingrained in a society that is finally being corrected on the errors in its shamelessly patriarchal tradition. Is the work done? Not by a long shot. But, after a series of significant victories – from taking down a disgraced comedian with an alleged penchant for spiking drinks and sexually assaulting women to forcing the resignation of a heavy-handed governor who apparently thinks “no” means “yes” — the future of the ‘me too.’ Movement’s form of restorative justice seems extremely bright. We all have Tarana Burke to thank along with the growing number of people she has influenced to carry on ‘me too.’s effective and necessary tradition.
Cynthia R. Greenlee, Historian and Journalist
Denene Millner, Author and Publisher
Ernest Owens, Editor and Journalist
Gail Brooks, Cultural Strategist
Jameelah Mullen, Content Creator
Joyce Davis, DE&I Communications Leader
What I remember about the eruption of the visibility of the ‘me too.’ Movement in 2017, is that I didn’t know anything about it before it gained significant social media traction after actress Alyssa Milano’s tweet. The ensuing conversation driven by Black Twitter about and involving the Black woman founder, Tarana Burke, fascinated me. But it did not surprise me. Black women and those in marginalized communities have been doing such work for hundreds of years that has not been recognized until the majority shine their light on the issues. As always in these situations, I was intrigued and proud of the Black woman, Tarana, for the work she had been doing for at least a decade previously. And, as always, I also felt some kind of way that I was unaware of her invaluable efforts. In the years since, I have been continually grateful for her advocacy and vulnerability. Every other Black woman I know, including myself, has a ‘me too.’ experience. As the mother of a teen Black girl, I honor all who are raising their voices, being activists for policy changes and sharing their stories. I pray that education and awareness has a deep impact – a significant reduction – on the reasons for this movement.
Kirsten West Savali, Senior Director of Content, iOne
Tarana Burke, the founder of the ‘me too.’ Movement, which predates the hashtag by a solid decade, has consistently reiterated that her life’s mission is not to focus on the persecution of men but the healing of Black women and girls. Still, at the intersection of state and sexual violence, you will find Black women who are silenced, ignored and erased—just as mainstream media, Hollywood, and some people in our own communities attempted to do to Tarana herself.
Today serves as a testament to what happens when Black women, in the tradition of Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin, refuse to give up their seats, refuse to be sidelined, refuse to have our experiences consumed and co-opted by a society that has made assaults against our bodies permissible. Systemic oppression has always been mapped on the bodies of Black women—whether that oppression manifests through state violence or in our own communities. The ‘me too.’ Movement understands that white supremacist cishetero-patriarchal systems may attempt to destroy us, but we must water our own daughters’ gardens to make sure they, we, thrive despite it all.
Yes, this movement is for little Black girls who were told they needed to be silent. Still.
This movement is for the Black girls crying in their rooms at night, confused by the pain inflicted on their bodies and hearts by people who claimed to love them. Still.
This movement is for every single Black, Brown, Indigenous and AAPI woman, every girl, femme, gender non-conforming person, man, boy, and child, who has never had support, safety, or a soft place to land. Still.
This movement is for Black women who have been told their work doesn’t matter, that nothing they do or say could possibly change the world. Still.
Tarana Burke, sister of my heart, loves us. She has always worked and fought for Black girls without the expectation or desire for recognition. She is always, always, always love in action—even when she’s navigating her own pain. Now, she has changed the world. But more importantly, every little Black girl under the sound of her voice knows that there are Black women who look like them, who love them, who are them, who will fight for their joy, peace and healing until their dying day. So, today, on the fourth anniversary of the viral #MeToo moment catapulting the ‘me too.’ Movement into the global spotlight a full decade after its inception, I celebrate the power of Black women, the capacity that we have to love and heal and hold each other through it all. In the words of Lucille Clifton, I celebrate that every day something has tried to destroy us and failed.