#MeToo movement is ignoring poor Black women, founder Tarana Burke says

#MeToo founder Tarana Burke, left, and actress Tracee Ellis Ross. Photo: Instagram/@taranarenee

Some feel that the #MeToo movement that was started by a Black woman has been co-opted by Hollywood and ignores the very community it was founded from: poor Black women and girls.

As #MeToo founder Tarana Burke reminded people at the Facing Race Conference in Detroit, the #MeToo movement originated a decade before any indictments and accusations toppled the legendary careers of Harvey Weinstein, “Today’s” Matt Lauer, former Senator Al Franken, comedians Bill Cosby and CK Louis, and actor Kevin Spacey. In the maelstrom that swept through Hollywood and along the corridors of power in America, Burke is complaining that women of color have become an afterthought.

“The No. 1 thing I hear from folks is that the #MeToo movement has forgotten us,” Burke said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “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.”

Burke also told the throngs in the audience that because actress Alyssa Milano began tweeting and retweeting #MeToo, taking the movement to a much broader level, that many people falsely believe that she founded it.

“You know how many people say, ‘The #Metoo movement — well Hollywood’s got it.’ F— Hollywood,” Burke said, liberally sprinkling profane words into her speech. “Every time somebody asks me how I feel about them taking my movement, I say, ‘You can’t take s— that’s mine. This is not about Tarana Burke owning something. This is about a community that I have lived in, worked in, given my blood sweat and tears to. This is our movement. Stop opting out of it.

“With #MeToo being as big and loud as it is, we don’t need more awareness, This is about what happens after the hashtag, after the hoopla. This is about the work.”

The #MeToo movement was founded as a device to provide survivors of sexual violence, particularly women of color, with the resources and guidance to overcome the situation.

“We are the movement,” she said. “And so I need you to not opt out of the #Metoo movement.

“I need you to reframe your work to include sexual violence. That’s how we take back the narrative. Stop giving your power away to white folks.”

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Burke also opened up about the barrage of death threats that she’s gotten, particularly after Cosby was indicted and accusations against iconic singer R. Kelly rose to deafening levels.

“This is hard,” she said. “… These are mostly women of color, queer women of color who are dealing with layers of s—. I’ve gotten more death threats from Black men than anybody else. After Cosby was indicted and R. Kelly took off, I got tons of threats from Black men.”

These were not just phone-call threats or shouts from the audience. Burke said men would come to her place of residence and employment looking for her.

“Why do we have to die?” she asked. “And I’m not saying people writing on Facebook: ‘You should die!’ I’m talking about coming to your house. I’m talking about having to relocate. … This is not a game. We are in the midst of a crisis around that. I’ve got a child. I had to pull my daughter out of school over some bulls—. I’m sorry to keep cursing, but it’s just not easy.”

Do you believe the #MeToo movement no longer benefits Black women? And what do you make of Black men allegedly threatening Burke over Cosby and Kelly?

Terry Shropshire
Terry Shropshire

A military veteran and Buckeye State native, I've written for the likes of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Business Chronicle and the Detroit Free Press. I'm a lover of words, photography, books, travel, animals and The Ohio State Buckeyes. #GoBucks