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Mindful Hero

Tarana Burke: MeToo Hero

October 23, 2017

Tarana Burke has made it her mission to encourage young girls and women to tell their stories and heal together. In 2006, Tarana Burke founded Just Be Inc., a youth organization “focused on the health, well being, and wholeness of young women of color.” One part of the Just Be is the “me too” movement.

The idea for the movement came to Burke about a decade before the Just Be founding. Burke was working as a youth camp director when a young girl told Burke privately that her mother’s boyfriend was abusing her. Burke directed the girl to another female counselor who could “help her better.” Burke recalled the look of rejection on the girl’s face. In her own words, Burke says, “I watched her put her mask back on and go back into the world like she was all alone and I couldn’t even bring myself to whisper…me too.”

From then on, Burke realized that there was power in women sharing their stories of abuse and harassment with each other. She’s helped train abuse survivors to work as advocates and counselors. She’s also been a speaker at Philadelphia’s March Against Rape Culture.

 #MeToo

Tarana Burke’s hard work has received a lot of well-deserved media attention in the last few weeks and it all stems from the Harvey Weinstein scandal. The Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal has exploded around Hollywood and America. This national discussion has inspired other people to come forward their own separate stories of sexual harassment, including actress Alyssa Milano who encouraged other women to share their stories with the “#MeToo” tag.

 

The hashtag caught on. Tons of brave women and some men spoke their truth. On Facebook, there were 12 million “#MeToo” posts, comments, and reactions in less than 24 hours. And within 48 hours there were nearly a million #MeToo tweets.

Since her October 15th posting, Milano has credited Burke as the creator of the Me Too movement.

Burke for her part is happy to see that the powerful phrase is catching on. In a recent interview, Burke reminded the public that #MeToo is not a moment, but a movement—a chance to elevate the conversation and provide empathy to survivors. You can read more of her interview here.

In honor of our Mindful Hero lets help support survivors and prevent violence. Consider volunteering at a local crisis center or violence prevention organization, such as RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network). Or consider donating money to causes, such as Burke’s Just Be Inc.

Main photo credit: Screenshot / DemocracyNow!

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