While the emergence of the #MeToo movement has lead to a rash of indictments and criminal complaints, its founder Tarana Burke is concerned that women of color have become an afterthought.
According to USA Today, Burke had plenty to get off her chest during her keynote address at the Facing Race conference in Detroit.
“The No. 1 thing I hear from folks is that the #MeToo movement has forgotten us,” Burke told attendees. “Every day, we hear some version of that. But this is what I’m here to tell you — the #MeToo movement is not defined by what the media has told you.”
She also expressed her concerns that the movement had been co-opted by high-profile celebrities with questionable motives.
“With #MeToo being as big and loud as it is, we don’t need more awareness,” said Burke. “This is about what happens after the hashtag, after the hoopla. This is about the work.”
Since its inception in 2006, the #MeToo movement has provided survivors of sexual violence—particularly Black women and girls from low wealth communities—with the resources and guidance necessary to facilitate healing.
“We are the movement,” she said. “And so I need you to not opt out of the #Metoo movement.”
While Alyssa Milano played a role in drastically increasing the movement’s popularity last fall after incorporating the #MeToo hashtag in her tweets, she is often erroneously credited with founding it.
However, since its newfound notoriety, the movement has played a key role in bringing cultural cornerstones such as Harry Weinstein and Bill Cosby to justice. And Burke has every intention of preventing “pretty girls” and Hollywood’s elite from hijaking something she’s spent her entire life building.
“I need you to reframe your work to include sexual violence,” said Burke. “That’s how we take back the narrative. Stop giving your power away to white folks.”