If you were one of the millions who watched the Times Square ball drop on New Year’s Eve, you probably saw Tarana Burke. She was the woman who pressed the iconic drop button that signaled the ball’s descent and carried the country into a new year. Or maybe you’ve seen her face in the feature spread of Time’s Person of the Year issue, where she was celebrated for ushering the nation into a powerful conversation about sexual violence.
If you’ve never seen her face, you’ve definitely seen her work: Tarana Burke is the creator of the #MeToo movement, and for the last quarter of 2017, she has received attention, awards and praise for her work. She has become, in her words “a Black History fact,” lauded in headline after headline as “the black woman who started #MeToo.” But Tarana doesn’t actually see herself in those headlines. She believes many of them have missed the point, erasing her and the decade of work that she put in long before white actresses elevated the hashtag to the mainstream. That stops now.
In 2018, she is determined to bring the focus and attention back to what she originally envisioned: healing. In this interview, for the first time ever, we get to hear Tarana Burke’s real story about the #MeToo movement, and the black girls and women who started it all. She also talks about the danger of the hashtag, why she feels she and the movement have been misrepresented in the media, and the powerful words she wants to tell survivors today.