Past, Present & Purpose: Tarana Burke Is Bringing the Power of Empathy to the 2019 MAKERS Conference


“I practiced deeply listening to little black girls when they told me the truth about their lives,” Tarana Burke says in a short video teasing her appearance at the 2019 MAKERS conference. “The idea that somebody who you look up to believes you—that’s a very small thing to ask.”


Burke has made validating the voices and experiences of black girls and women her life’s work. On Friday, February 8, she brings the powerful platform we know as the Me Too Movement to the 2019 MAKERS Conference, “a three-day global event that accelerates the women’s movement.” In a talk that will be live-streaming at 10:30 p.m., PT, Burke will discuss how empathy empowers survivors, results she has seen firsthand through her own choice to lead with empathy instead of ego.

Case in point: When the #MeToo hashtag suddenly exploded on Twitter in 2017, Burke’s name and decade-plus advocacy was initially nowhere to be found in the millions of mentions of the hashtag she created. As she revealed to MAKERS’ cameras, it was a moment of reckoning. And while many of us consider her to be both the founder and rightful leader of the movement (and quickly corrected the record), Burke’s is a much humbler approach, with full awareness that the movement’s purpose is far bigger than her.

“The possibility of black women’s work being erased and of me being lost in this narrative is a reality,” Burke admitted. “But for me, the decision was, ‘Am I going to be in conflict in this moment? Or am I going to be who I said I was, which is somebody who is in service of survivors?’”

“I had to figure out a way to insert myself into this conversation,” she continued, “not to take ownership of it, but because I have something to contribute to it.”

The Glow Up tip: To catch appearances by Tarana Burke, Time’s Up president Lisa Borders, Jada Pinkett Smith, Ciara and more at MAKERS 2019, visit the conference website.

Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?



On one hand I’m so in awe of her grace in putting ego and conflict aside to just do the work. But I can’t let go of that sentence “The possibility of black women’s work being erased and of me being lost in this narrative is a reality.” Is it safe to check your ego in a world that always just assumes you’ll be selfless and nurturing and invisible? But somehow she manages to strike that balance. She has a solid, supportive communtiy behind her, I know that’s a big part of it.