Tarana Burke on #MeToo: 'I’m Not

Tarana Burke on #MeToo Movement: 'I’m Not Surprised at How Fast That Spread'

Civil rights activist Tarana Burke who first coined the term “Me Too” said she wasn’t surprised by how fast the movement took off when she spoke to Variety as part of the “Power of Women” issue.

“I founded the Me Too Movement because there was a void in the community that I was in,” Burke said. She continued, “There were gaps in services. There was dearth in resources, and I saw young people—I saw black and brown girls—who are hurting and who needed something that just wasn’t there.” She said her work as an organizer has taught her that “a community problem needs a community response.”

While Burke said she was surprised to see #MeToo become a hashtag connected to sexual violence, she said watching it spread wasn’t as surprising because it was “person to person.”

“It was no surprise to me that once it was sort of like the veil was lifted and people saw it was okay to lend their voice to this chorus,” Burke explained.

Burke also spoke about members of Hollywood lending their voices to the #MeToo Movement. She said actresses such as Gabrielle Union, Tracee Ellis Ross, Rashida Jones, Tessa Thompson, and Kerry Washington reached out to her, adding that Viola Davis gave her money and has encouraged other actresses to give monetary donations as well toward the cause.

In response to a question about whether Hollywood has done enough to support the movement, Burke said, “People are looking at the corporate response and calling that the movement, and it’s not.” She said Harvey Weinstein’s removal from the Academy and his position at his company occurred so “people don’t have culpability” or their “due diligence.” She mentioned how the sexual allegations regarding Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, and R. Kelly have been discussed for years but are still “under the radar.”

“If you’re going to stand up and say that you represent this thing and you stand for it and stand by survivors and you support survivors, then you have to do it,” Burke said.

She encouraged others to become involved in the movement by looking at the gaps in services related to sexual violence and the sexual harassment policies at jobs.

“Get up. Stand up. Speak up. Do something,” she said.

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