Tarana Burke started #MeToo in 2006 — but few noticed

Andrea Silveira, Staff Writer

The hashtag “Me, too” was started in 2006 by an activist from the Bronx, Tarana Burke. Burke, a victim of sexual harassment herself, was inspired by the stories of girls who spoke out about being sexually harassed and would reply with “Me, too.”  Her goal was to unify the community of people who felt too scared to share their stories and to show the world how common sexual harassment is.
 “What the campaign did is, it creates hope.  It creates inspiration,” Burke said in an interview with the “Washington Post.” She said she holds this campaign close to her heart, because she has heard many stories of young girls experiencing sexual harassment and needed to do something about it.
“As a survivor of sexual violence myself, as a person who was struggling trying to figure out what healing looked like for me, I also saw young people, and particularly young women of color, in the community I worked with, struggling with the same issues and trying to find a succinct way to show empathy,”  Burke said in an interview with “Democracy Now.”
In the past women of color have not always felt support from fellow white feminists.  Being a woman of color, Burke’s movement didn’t have much momentum in the beginning with white feminists.
 “Women of color are demanded to be silent and are erased,”  Burke said in an interview with “The New York Times.”
Recently, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted using Burke’s “Me, too” hashtag receiving 25.1k retweets.  This initiated an overwhelming response from thousands of sexual assault and harassment victims who used the hashtag to share their stories.
“I was surprised because I saw people I know use the hashtag,” junior Aryah Coilton said.
“The ‘Me, too’ hashtag was a great way of showing how wide-reaching the effects of sexual harassment go,” senior Nathann Latimore said.  “It makes a lot of people aware of how many people’s lives are affected by sexual harassment.”
 “Initially I panicked,” Burke said in an interview discussing Milano’s tweet with the “Times.”  “I felt a sense of dread, because something that was part of my life’s work was going to be co-opted and taken from me and used for a purpose that I hadn’t originally intended.”
Milano claimed she had never heard of Burke’s “Me, too” after hearing about her campaign but later reached out to her and credited her.
Milano and Burke collaborated on bringing awareness to how many women in the world are victims of sexual assault and work towards Burke’s main objective: acknowledge the survivors.