Tarana Burke is a civil rights activist. She created the "Me too" movement in 2006 to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of sexual abuse and assault in society. She is currently Senior Director at Girls for Gender Equity.
|Movement||Me Too (hashtag)|
Burke grew up in Queens in a neighborhood that was composed of mostly boys that were a year or two older than her. She recalls that she used to play with them until one day they held her down and her shirt was torn. The mother of one of the boys told them to get off Burke, and then told Burke she needed to stop playing with the boys and be careful or something bad might happen. Burke's mother's reaction told her she was at fault for what happened, and that the boys would get in trouble if she pursued action against them.
Burke has worked with young girls in marginalized communities since in her teens. She has been an activist in Philadelphia, and moved there in 2008. She worked at Art Sanctuary Philadelphia as well as at other non-profits. She was a consultant for the Hollywood movie Selma.
Girls for Gender EquityEdit
Just Be IncEdit
In 1997, Burke met a young girl named Heaven in Alabama who told her about being sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend. She says she didn't know what to say, and never saw the girl again. She says she wished she had said "me too." This and other incidents led Burke to found Just Be Inc, an organization that promotes the wellness of young female minorities, in 2006. Just Be Inc received its first grant in 2007.
Me too movementEdit
In 2017, actress Alyssa Milano started using "Me too" as an Internet hashtag in response to accusations against Harvey Weinstein and other public figures of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other abusive behavior. In October 2017, Milano acknowledged Burke's earlier use of the phrase on Twitter writing, "I was just made aware of an earlier #MeToo movement, and the origin story is equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring". Burke has been supportive of the use of "Me too" as a hashtag.
When asked if the movement should not be split into two groups: one for sexual harassment and another for sexual assault, Burke said that the movement is for both: She has said that both types of sexual misconduct can be extremely traumatizing, and it's about the trauma someone feels as opposed to trying to categorize the severity of the violence against them.
Burke organizes workshops to help improve policies at schools, workplaces and places of worship, and focuses on helping victims not blame themselves for sexual violence.
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