For good reason, Variety selected Tarana Burke as one of our five Power of Women, New York, honorees this past spring. At our celebratory luncheon, she received three standing ovations. The founder of the #MeToo movement had put her now-12-year-old organization on the map a year ago next month after Harvey Weinstein was outed by The New York Times and The New Yorker as an alleged sexual predator. #MeToo gave survivors (Burke balks at the term “victims”) an enormous public platform from which to voice accusations of sexual abuse by one of the industry’s most powerful movie moguls.
Over the year since those accusations first engulfed Weinstein, who has been banished from the business and is facing potential jail time, #MeToo and great investigative journalism have played a pivotal role in helping survivors speak their truths about sexual misconduct. With the added aid of the anti-harassment group Time’s Up, many other influential men in entertainment and media — including most recently CBS leader Les Moonves — have fallen off their perches.
When we decided to devote this week’s edition to examining what Hollywood has and hasn’t done to help eliminate the sexual abuse epidemic gripping the industry, I thought no one would be better to write the cover story than Tarana Burke. Mind you, it’s not our practice to permit non-staffers to author cover stories.
But Burke had earned the right.
In her poignant essay, she remains skeptical about how much has changed over the past year for the survivors of sexual violence “Some might see the cases of Harvey Weinstein and Les Moonves as bookends to this year,” Burke writes. “But look closer and you’ll find at both the beginning and the end are survivors and allies refusing to stay silent while people in power inflict harm without recourse. … We’ve just scratched the surface.” Another of my favorite passages: “It’s no secret that Hollywood runs off power, privilege and access, and because of that it is important in this moment to also examine the ways that unchecked privilege and power accumulate and are wielded against the most vulnerable.”