Let’s talk about this #MeToo hashtag viral sensation. First and foremost I would be remiss not to acknowledge the true person behind the ‘me too’ movement, Tarana Burke who planted the seeds for the movement in 1996 when working as a youth camp director. She is the Founder and Director of Just Be Inc. (http://justbeinc.wixsite.com/justbeinc/the-me-too-movement-cmml). As noted on the Just Be Inc. site, her organization “is a youth organization focused on the health, well being and wholeness of young women of color.” As then program director for Brooklyn-based Girls for Gender Equity, the goal of Burke’s program was to empower young women of color.
After bonding with and hearing the story of a young girl who asked to speak with Burke privately after an all-girl bonding session event hosted by Just Be Inc. that left her horrified, Burke wrote on http://justbeinc.wixsite.com/justbeinc/the-me-too-movement-cmml, “I will never forget the look because I think about her all of the time. The shock of being rejected, the pain of opening a wound only to have it abruptly forced closed again – it was all on her face. And as much as I love children, as much as I cared about that child, I could not find the courage that she had found. I could not muster the energy to tell her that I understood, that I connected, that I could feel her pain.”
“I couldn’t help her release her shame, or impress upon her that nothing that happened to her was her fault. I could not find the strength to say out loud the words that were ringing in my head over and over again as she tried to tell me what she had endured… I watched her walk away from me as she tried to recapture her secrets and tuck them back into their hiding place. 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.” Ms. Burke said she never forgot the look on the girl’s face after hearing her story. A heartbreaking, sad unforgettable moment…This for me was more than enough reason to start a movement. To read the full story go to the Just Be Inc. link mentioned above.
Essentially, this is what started the ‘me too’ movement – “to help young women of color who had survived sexual abuse, assault and exploitation.” It has now become an online hashtag viral sensation and every women who has been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted have joined in making a statement to let the world know, #MeToo – I am not ashamed, I am not alone, I am a victor, I am a survivor. Ms. Burke I applaud your drive and tenacity to make a difference in the lives of young women of color. Kudos!
When I first stumbled upon the #MeToo hashtag on Twitter a few days ago, I was curious why I was seeing just these two words from so many people (men and women alike) without an origin or explanation behind its meaning. It was not until I clicked on the hashtag on Twitter and discovered Alyssa Milano’s tweet, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet – ‘Me too. Suggested by a friend: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.’”
As of October 19, 2017 ABC News reported Alyssa Milano’s ‘Me Too’ tweet has now garnered “1.4 million and counting tweets included the hashtag, along with more than 13 million posts, comments and reactions on Facebook” (http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/alyssa-milano-metoo-campaign-vocal-stops/story?id=50582023).
Being the person I am, before becoming a part of this sensation, I did some research and realized after taking a deep look inside myself and thinking of the countless times I too was a victim, I found #MeToo is who I am too. It hit too close to home. It was personal. And now I desire change that goes far beyond what we see with the hashtag itself. My desire, ‘Me Too’ becomes more than a viral sensation but an entry point to healing at a deeper level than what we’ve seen in society with other movements that gain maximum exposure after going viral but we never see or hear anything about once the hoopla goes away.
Let’s have a discussion, critical dialogue and a real conversation about its effects, what we can do to end it, continue to increase awareness, and what programs we can develop on a larger scale to include collaborative efforts with Ms. Burke’s organization and others like hers to empower not only women of color but those who have been affected by sexual harassment or sexual assault and are afraid to come forth out of fear of retaliation.
Let’s build a community of safety in the creation of safe houses for survivors and non-survivors to go to for ongoing support. Let’s establish a platform with someone like Iyanla Vanzant and Ava DuVernay to reach the masses on a continuous basis and not drop the ball after getting the attention and exposure we desire only to “make a statement.” Let’s design programs to empower, inspire, and influence survivors and those that haven’t to encourage and motivate them to reach their fullest potential.
Let’s reach out to and join forces with Tarana Burke and her Just Be Inc. organization as well as similar organizations to create change. Let’s join forces with Alyssa Milano, and others, who wants to fix the problem and asks others to reach out to her for suggestions to help grow the #MeToo movement. Let’s flood their inboxes and social media outlets to make a difference. Let’s be a strong voice and not stop until we are heard. Let’s get involved and show the world how we will be the change we want to see. Let’s do this!
As for me, I am #MeToo – I am not ashamed, I am not alone, I am a victor, I am a survivor!