“REVOLT Black News Weekly” focused on Black women asserting themselves as a priority and centered on Mara S. Campo’s sit-down interview with #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke. The in-depth conversation with the dynamic activist was equally enlightening and inspiring whether you’re a Black woman or someone looking to be the best ally you can be.
Back in 2017, #MeToo started trending in the wake of high-profile sexual abuse allegations against movie exec Harvey Weinstein, but it was erroneously credited to actress Alyssa Milano. Actually, Tarana Burke had been using the hashtag since 2006 in her tireless work as an advocate for victims of sexual assault. In reality, #MeToo began with a focus on Black women, but soon enough it was co-opted by the mainstream, and white women became its face without giving credit to its proper founder.
“I wasn’t doing the work to the exclusion of anybody else,” explained Burke. “But I was laser focused on what I need to do to help Black women and girls. It was so hard already to try to get people to focus on the survivorship, the trauma in our own community… that I knew nobody would believe that I had already been doing this work for so long to bring attention to our pain. And now you got the whole world focusing on white women and Hollywood? There was no way they were going to be like, ‘Oh, but wait, there was this Black woman way, way back who started doing this.’ I would be a footnote to that. I knew that, that would happen. We’ve seen that happen before.”
Indeed, there is a long history of Black women being erased from their own work. For example, Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells are too often overlooked titans in the Civil Rights Movement while it was Black women who started the Black Lives Matter movement. It was also Black women who made sure Burke got her credit, too.
“The white women celebrities themselves didn’t co-opt it, they were survivors who came forward and told their stories,” said Burke. “They didn’t come to co-opt a movement, they didn’t know I existed — not even Alyssa Milano. I held no blame towards them. But there is a white woman machine in this country. Make no mistake. Mainstream media took hold of #MeToo and certainly not a 40-something-year-old Black woman from the Bronx. We can pull you out, and prop you up and say, ‘Look, she’s the founder’ because we don’t want to get in trouble. But when it comes down to it, we really want to talk about these powerful white men.”
Burke was referring to men like former NBC “Today” host Matt Lauer and comedian Louis C.K., who saw their careers hits major speed bumps after sexual misconduct allegations. So while powerful white men faced a reckoning, the survivors of color once again fell by the wayside. But Burke believes Black women should not be discouraged by this apparent co-opting of the #MeToo movement. “Why do you care? It’s still yours,” said Burke. “Why do we let them take our power away? So what they have it? So now it can’t be yours? It was started for you. It’s for all survivors really. I put Black women at the center of this movement knowing that everybody would get what they need.”
From there, Campo and Burkes’ conversation went to a candid look at allies. Specifically, have white women and Black men been allies to women of color, or are they part of the problem? The feminist movement has a long history of prioritizing the concerns of white women while disregarding the unique struggles facing Black women.
“When we talk about Black and white women, we’re talking about communities who have very different historical situations and also historical relationships to the concept of feminism,” said Dr. Shoniqua Roach, a professor at Brandeis University. Roach broke down the three waves of the feminism — suffrage (access to voting rights), equal pay and reproductive justice — which are all defined by white women, and mean different things to Black women. In recent years, this misalignment between the priorities of Black versus white feminists was illustrated in voting for Trump in 2016 when about 50 percent of white women voted for the former impeached president, while less than 5 percent of Black women cast their ballot for him.
Add to the mix “Karens” not letting Black people live their lives or culture vultures. And at times, as “RBN” pointed out, some Black men haven’t been the greatest allies either.
“There has been some hesitancy for Black men to accept Black women as equal leaders,” said Kevin Richardson, a philosophy professor at Duke University. “Historically, there’s been this model of the charismatic Black leader, the charismatic Black male leader. That doesn’t necessarily make a way for different types of leadership that you see from Black women like the Ella Bakers, like the Fannie Lou Hamers.”
Some recent examples of the too quick eagerness to protect suspect Black men while dismissing their accusers include R. Kelly and Tory Lanez, with the latter now heading to jail as well, but not before Megan Thee Stallion’s assertions that he shot her were often dismissed or even disparaged. While these two examples are getting their legal comeuppance, the rush to protect them despite the evidence against them was damning.
“Let’s take a step back and look at this through a lens of reality,” said Tarana Burke matter-of-factly. “R. Kelly is not Emmett Till, y’all. This is not the Central Park Five. We have to use nuance and reality, but that’s almost impossible in the world of social media.”
Another important topic Campo delved into was Black women kicking aside the “strong Black woman” trope for the sake of taking care of themselves. A lot of Black women are saying no to things that don’t serve them to make room to say yes to themselves. It’s known as the soft life— prioritizing rest and mental health, setting boundaries, asking for help and refusing to be all things to all people. Can you really be mad at that?
“Leisure is a human right, and a lot of people don’t know that,” said Eva Maria Lewis, founder of Free Root Operation. “So many Black women are tired and need rest. It really is a human right. Not just the Black women who have access to stainless steel refrigerators and live in those nice luxury apartments we see on Tik Tok.”
For Burke, taking time for self fits neatly with the #MeToo movement.
“#MeToo is about #MeFirst,” said the activist. “I don’t think it has to evolve into that. The #MeToo movement that I created is about healing and action. If you are a survivor that is working on healing your own trauma, healing your own wounds, that’s movement work enough. Because you become a living, breathing example for what’s possible for other survivors.”
Be sure to catch new installments of “REVOLT Black News Weekly” every Friday at 5 p.m. ET via REVOLT’s app. Plus, watch a quick clip from this week’s episode below.
Gen Z Is The Most Unapologetic Generation Yet -- And They Don’t Care
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Marlon Wayans says he is open to doing 'White Chicks 2'
“If we do ‘White Chicks,’ it gotta be me and Shawn,” he said. “I don’t throw that into the universe because I don’t control it. But I would do a ‘White Chicks 2.’” Read up!
Brazilian doctor filmed putting penis in woman’s mouth during C-section
Officials believe the Brazilian doctor may have carried out the same act during two procedures earlier that day.
REVOLT Premiere: Diddy, City Girls, and Fabolous turn the heat up in "Act Bad" visual
Add in some DeLeón Tequila and you have all of the right ingredients for an exuberant summer.
Beyoncé has celebrities coming out to watch her "Renaissance World Tour" stop in Paris
Beyoncé is currently on the European leg of her “Renaissance World Tour.”