Tarana Burke, a black woman who originally came up with the campaign 10 years ago, said that she created the phrase as a part of a grassroots movement to aid sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities “where rape crisis centers and sexual assault workers weren’t going.”
— Britni Danielle (@BritniDWrites) October 16, 2017
“It wasn’t built to be a viral campaign or a hashtag that is here today and forgotten tomorrow,” Burke said in an interview with 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.”
“What’s happening now is powerful and I salute it and the women who have disclosed but the power of using ‘me too’ has always been in the fact that it can be a conversation starter or the whole conversation – but it was us talking to us,” she added.
The “Me Too” phrase was initially credited to actress Alyssa Milano but on Tuesday she credited Burke as the creator and called her story “heartbreaking” and “inspiring.”
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 16, 2017
“I think that women of color use social media to make our voices heard with or without the amplification of White women,” Burke said. “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.”
“In this instance, the celebrities who popularized the hashtag didn’t take a moment to see if there was work already being done, but they also were trying to make a larger point,” she continued. “I don’t fault them for that part, I don’t think it was intentional but somehow sisters still managed to get diminished or erased in these situations. A slew of people raised their voices so that that didn’t happen.”
The “Me Too” phrase has become viral throughout social media following the allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Harvey Weinstein. If you would like to support Burke’s “Me Too” movement, you can do so here.