“Maybe it won’t catch on.”

That’s what Tarana Burke was thinking — indeed, hoping — when she first found out the phrase “MeToo” was suddenly circulating online in October 2017, in the wake of shocking revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

It was a phrase she had come up with over years of working with survivors of sexual violence. And she worried that it would be co-opted or misused, turned into a mere hashtag for a brief moment of social media frenzy and ruining the hard work she had done.

As it turned out, it did catch on. Actor Alyssa Milano had asked victims of sexual assault or harassment to share their stories or simply say #MeToo, and hundreds of thousands had done so on the very first day. But Burke’s fears did not materialize, and her movement has taken off in a way she’d never dreamed.

“I wasn’t even dreaming this big,” she told The Associated Press in an interview. “I thought I had big, lofty goals and I didn’t dream nearly big enough.”

Now, as the #MeToo movement — the social reckoning that began in 2017 — approaches its fourth anniversary, Burke, 48, has come out with a highly personal, often raw memoir of her childhood in the Bronx in New York City, her journey into activism, and the beginnings of #MeToo. She also provides a vivid account of how she herself was raped when she was only seven years old — an event that shaped her future in profound ways. She spoke to AP ahead of the book’s release this week. (Interview has been edited for clarity and length.)

AP: Why was it time for this memoir?

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BURKE: People will think this is a book about, you know, going to the Golden Globes and meeting a bunch of celebrities, and a bunch of powerful men whose lives were impacted by #MeToo. I want to tell a different story. My story is ordinary and also extraordinary: It’s so many other little black girls’ stories, so many young women’s stories. We don’t pay attention to the nuances of what survival looks like or what sexual violence feels like and how it impacts our lives. So it just felt important. This is a story that’s been growing inside me for more than 40 years. It was time to give it a home outside of my body.

AP: What message do you hope to send other women and girls who, like you, experienced rape or sexual assault?

BURKE: That their experiences aren’t singular, and they aren’t alone. It feels really isolating, particularly if you’re dealing with sexual violence. I really want to convey the message that you are not alone. YOU are normal and the things that happened to you are NOT normal. It doesn’t make something wrong with you.

AP: You write about how you felt both guilt deep shame about what happened to you.

BURKE: Shame is insidious. It’s all-consuming. It can get into all the nooks and crannies and cracks and crevices of your life. There’s not enough messages …read more

Source:: News Headlines


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