breaking news

Fairgrounds get $50k to rebrand site as Champions Park

Before Alyssa Milano, #MeToo began with activist Tarana Burke 10 years ago


In wake of mounting sexual harassment and assault allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein, Alyssa Milano tweeted a call to victims to share their stories. 

“If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet,” the actress wrote in October.

The hashtag spread far and wide, but Milano isn’t the originator of using the phrase to bring attention to these stories. That credit belongs to Tarana Burke, a New York-based sexual assault, abuse and exploitation activist.

>> Read more trending news

“It's not about a viral campaign for me,” Burke told CNN Oct. 17. “It’s about a movement.”

CNN reported that Burke began the movement -- the genesis of which happened in 1996 -- when she was a youth camp director and heard a young girl’s story of abuse.

“For the next several minutes this child ... struggled to tell me about her ‘stepdaddy’ or rather her mother’s boyfriend who was doing all sorts of monstrous things to her developing body…” Burke wrote on the Just Be youth organization website. “I was horrified by her words, the emotions welling inside of me ran the gamut, and I listened until I literally could not take it anymore…which turned out to be less than 5 minutes. Then, right in the middle of her sharing her pain with me, I cut her off and immediately directed her to another female counselor who could ‘help her better...’

“I could not muster the energy to tell her that I understood, that I connected, that I could feel her pain,” she wrote, later adding, “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.”

Burke told CNN she began the movement to help young women of color who survived sexual exploitation, abuse and assault. 

“It started with young people and I quickly realized adults needed it too,” she said. “When you experience trauma and meet other people that have a similar experience, and you show empathy for each other, it creates a bond.”

#MeToo continues to be tweeted and shared on other social media spaces, including Facebook and Instagram. 

“Somebody asked me, does this (campaign) amplify your work? And it does in a certain way, but also when this hashtag dies down, and people thinking about it, I'll still be doing the work,” Burke told the Los Angeles Times

“I think the viral moment is great but the amplification of that -- I worry about disclosing their status as survivors en masse on social media and not having space to process,” she told CNN. “I worry about survivors coming on to social media and being bombarded with messages of ‘me too.”

Milano has since tweeted that she was made aware of the origin of the movement. “(T)he origin story is equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring,” she wrote with a link to the Just Be website.

Before then, some were critical, Ebony magazine reported. To a number of women of color on Twitter, Milano’s elevation of #MeToo and the day-long Twitter boycott following Rose McGowan’s temporary account deactivation ignored the fact that black women and other women of color are excluded from conversations. 

“Where was the boycott when actress and comedian Leslie Jones was harassed by trolls to the point of deleting her account for months?” writer Ashley C. Ford wrote in a Refinery29 essay.

“I think that women of color use social media to make our voices heard with or without the amplification of White women,” Burke told Ebony. “I also think that many times when White women want our support, they use an umbrella of ‘women supporting women’ and forget that they didn’t lend the same kind of support.”

“I don’t think it was intentional but somehow sisters still managed to get diminished or erased in these situations,” she added. “A slew of people raised their voices so that that didn’t happen.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation World

Ohio officials tell residents not to worry: We’re not Hawaii
Ohio officials tell residents not to worry: We’re not Hawaii

Breath easy Ohio: The type of panic that occurred from a false alarm about an imminent missile strike in Hawaii over the weekend wouldn’t likely happen here. If you have a cell phone that receives text messages, you will automatically receive any alerts sent over the emergency system to warn Ohioans of tornadoes, flash floods or even an incoming...
Fears grow as shutdown deadline nears
Fears grow as shutdown deadline nears

President Donald Trump and Congress appear to be careening toward a partial shutdown of the federal government, though lawmakers expressed some hope Tuesday they can at least approve a temporary spending bill that would keep the government running beyond the Friday deadline. It’s far from a sure bet, though, and there are growing fears the government...
Eyelashes freeze, thermometer breaks as -62°C temperatures hit world's coldest village
Eyelashes freeze, thermometer breaks as -62°C temperatures hit world's coldest village

As Americans continue to brave the winter weather, photos from a remote village in Russia might make them count their blessings that it’s not worse. According to the experts, Oymyakon in Siberia is the world’s coldest permanently inhabited area. Recent temperatures came in at a bone-chilling -62°C, or -79.6°F. In fact...
Flu outbreak forces an entire school district in Oklahoma to cancel classes for rest of week
Flu outbreak forces an entire school district in Oklahoma to cancel classes for rest of week

An entire Oklahoma school district canceled classes Wednesday through Friday after schools reported excessive flu absences among much of the staff. >> Read more trending news  Morris Public Schools said Monday's absences were at 20 percent, and Tuesday's were at more than 30 percent. Basketball teams will continue competition in the...
Washington State University quarterback Tyler Hilinski found dead with apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound
Washington State University quarterback Tyler Hilinski found dead with apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound

Police in Pullman, Washington, say officers have found Washington State University quarterback Tyler Hilinkski dead Tuesday in an apartment with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.  At about 4:30 p.m., officers responded to an apartment to check on the welfare of a football player who did not show up for practice earlier in the day...
More Stories