Yesterday, I was able to attend a lecture presented by Tarana Burke, on the Power of #MeToo. It was Co-sponsored with UAB Student Affairs, UAB Wellness Promotion, UAB Title IX Office, and UAB Counseling Services. Since finding out about Tarana and her ties to Selma, AL, I have been intrigued by her and I felt so honored to be in the same space. I wanted to share a few of the gems that you left with the audience.
21st century leaders- At the age of 14, she began her journey as an organizer. It was in Selma, Al, where she was told that she didn’t have to wait to be an adult to have POWER but that she had Power right then. One of her very first organizing efforts was protesting against the newspaper assault against the accused and now exonerated boys who were accused of the Central Park Jogger sexual assault. She not only was a member of 21st Century when she was a teenager but she came back as a team leader after college and at those camps Sexual Assault always came into the discussion and when a camp member came out and shared her story of sexual violence, she didn’t know what to say or how to help but she knew the feelings that the young women felt. It was difficult for her to know how to start the conversation.
Organizing was being taught but not healing trauma – She discussed in detail about how she was taught the importance of organizing but no one taught the importance to heal from trauma and how to help others heal from trauma. It was during this time that she created a curriculum to address those issues in the middle schools.
We are not comfortable with being uncomfortable – A problem with sexual assault is that people are not comfortable with being uncomfortable so when it is brought up, the public does the best to hush it up and shove back in to the shadows.
Movement of unchecked power and privilege- She shared her view on the backlash of the #metoo movement and how the current president stated how everyone had to be protective of their sons and fathers otherwise they would be “harmed” by the #metoo movement. She was stated as saying, “#Metoo movement was always meant to be a survivor to survivor movement.” However, the fact that powerful white men has come to this conclusion that people are out to them because to the core, sexual assault is about unchecked power and privilege. Survivors are asking for the basic dignity and humanity, to not be harassed in their work spaces, to not be objectified.
84% of Trans people have been a victim of sexual violence. Eighty-four percent of trans people have a been a victim of sexual violence in their lifetime. There is still work for us to do.
She discussed how the #metoo movement is creating the largest database of resources for survivors. Not only will the database include rape crisis centers but also will include healing circles, knitting club.
Healing can happen on several levels and it may not always be through the judicial system.
On this day, World Mental Health Day, I encourage you to take up the space to be a resource, to provide a safe space. Only then, will true healing begin.
Until Next Time,