I wrote a piece early this week called Me Too. In it, I said nothing about the work of Tarana Burke. I didn’t know about her. I hadn’t done my homework. BuzzFeed News did.
Burke started a movement ten years ago called Me Too. It started out as a community campaign and grew from there. She deserves the credit for encouraging women to come forth and share, to create a community for healing and while it was not originally designed to be a social media phenomena the intention was the same. This new iteration is an opportunity to reach more woman, and as Burke tweeted, “a larger conversation and a movement for radical community healing.”
How did this all start? She described it on her website JustBe.
The me too Movement™ started in the deepest, darkest place in my soul.
As a youth worker, dealing predominately with children of color, I had seen and heard my share of heartbreaking stories from broken homes to abusive or neglectful parents when I met Heaven. During an all girl bonding session at our youth camp, several of the girls in the room shared intimate stories about their lives. Some were the tales of normal teenage angst and others were quite painful. Just as I had done so many times before, I sat and listened to the stories, and comforted the girls as needed. When it was over the adults advised the young women to reach out to us in the event that they needed to talk some more or needed something else – and then we went our separate ways.
The next day Heaven, who had been in the previous night’s session, asked to speak to me privately. Heaven was a sweet-faced little girl who kind of clung to me throughout the camp. However, her hyperactive and often anger-filled behavior betrayed both her name and light, high-pitched voice and I was frequently pulling her out of some type of situation. As she attempted to talk to me that day though the look in her eyes sent me in the other direction. She had a deep sadness and a yearning for confession that I read immediately and wanted no part of. Finally, later in the day she caught up with me and almost begged me to listen…and I reluctantly conceded. For the next several minutes this child, Heaven, 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…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.”