2017 was #theworst on many accounts; it was pretty hopeless from the beginning when Trump stepped into office. But it has also been a year — like many other years, thanks to the work of BLM and other activists — of resilience and pushback, especially regarding the culture around sexual harassment and assault. It seems fitting, then, that Tarana Burke, the original activist behind the #MeToo movement, will release the ball in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, ushering in a year that we can finally get behind.
Burke dedicated herself to aiding survivors of sexual assault and abuse in the early aughts, illuminating the reality of rampant assault by creating Just Be Inc. She called her work the “Me Too Movement.” A decade later, as sexual allegations against Harvey Weinstein and men in the entertainment industry mounted, women took to social media and shared their own stories of harassment. Burke’s phrase went viral when Alyssa Milano used the hashtag #MeToo in response to the outpour.
In a statement made to AM New York, Burke said she is “delighted to be participating in this momentous occasion, I think it’s fitting to honor the Me Too movement as we close a historic year and set our intentions for 2018. With the new year comes new momentum to fuel this work and we won’t stop anytime soon.”
Because Milano popularized the phrase on social media, and many of the Hollywood women who feature prominently in the movement are white, New Year’s organizers could have whitewashed the origins of #MeToo. Thankfully, and rightly, they chose to honor Burke, the original creator of the movement and a woman of color who, they acknowledge, “changed the world this year.”
As Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance said in a statement, “New Year’s is a time when we look at the most significant cultural and political moments of the last year, when we look for inspiration by honoring and giving a global platform to those who have made a difference.”
With Burke at the helm, this coming year looks highly promising. Hopefully, this New Year’s trend won’t die out after January, and industries and movements will continue to give credit where credit is due, honoring the work of people of color and dismantling racism and rape culture.
Top photo courtesy of Tarana Burke/Facebook
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