Alyssa Milano didn’t come up with #MeToo, a woman of color did

Me. Too. Two words that have made a giant impact online for the last few days. Women across the globe are posting this phrase on social media to share that they, too, have been sexually harassed or assaulted.

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Many people believe it is Alyssa Milano who started this movement, and although she has made it gain traction, she was not the one who started it. Activist Tarana Burke actually started the movement 10 years ago, according to Britni Danielle of Ebony Magazine. Here’s video of Tarana speaking about the movement.

#metoo It has been amazing watching all of the pushback against Harvey Weinstein and in support of his accusers over the last week. In particular, today I have watched women on social media disclose their stories using the hashtag #metoo. It made my heart swell to see women using this idea – one that we call ‘empowerment through empathy’ – to not only show the world how widespread and pervasive sexual violence is, but also to let other survivors know they are not alone. The point of the work we’ve done over the last decade with the ‘me too movement’ is to let women, particularly young women of color know that they are not alone – it’s a movement. It’s beyond a hashtag. It’s the start of a larger conversation and a movement for radical community healing. Join us. 📹: @sirxavv 2014 March Against Rape Culture Philadelphia, PA #metoomovement #yourenotalone #itsamovement #empowermentthroughempathy

A post shared by Tarana J. Burke (@fortyisthenew40) on

Tarana first created this movement as a youth worker for children of color in underprivileged communities, she says on her website, Just Be Inc. Hearing tragic stories from young children about their  broken homes, abuse, and neglect broke Tarana’s heart. Especially from this girl named Heaven, whose story horrified Tarana due to the fact that she too went through the same situation.

The Me Too movement “wasn’t built to be a viral campaign or a hashtag that is here today and forgotten tomorrow,” Tarana told Ebony. “It was a catchphrase to be used from survivor to survivor to let folks know that they were not alone and that a movement for radical healing was happening and possible.”

The fact that movement is gaining recognition is amazing, but Tarana deserves recognition as its creator.

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It is not uncommon for a celebrity to attach themselves to a cause they believe in. But when Alyssa Milano tweeted about #MeToo, people automatically assumed she came up with the idea. Tarana Burke was left in the shadows. People corrected Alyssa by telling her the original founder of the movement, which led to her tweeting about Tarana’s story.

If you or anyone you know has been sexually harassed or assaulted, or just want to be a supporter for the survivors, #MeToo has a website coming soon. For now, you can join their email list for more info on support and how you can be an ally in this fight for justice for all sexual assault and harassment survivors. You can also follow Tarana Burke on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

If you are too afraid to come out and put your story on the internet, you are not alone. You have the right to not share your story or explain what happened with the world. Just know that there are allies, support groups, and survivors out there who are ready to send love and support your way once you are ready.


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