The activist who launched the #MeToo movement wants to return to its original focus.
Tarana Burke delivered that message at Variety’s annual Power of Women event on Friday, the Associated Press reported.
Burke, who started the empowerment movement 12 years ago, was among a group of six other women, which included Alicia Keys and Tamron Hall, who were honored for their charitable work. The “Me Too” founder underscored that the purpose of the movement is to help sexual assault survivors—not to topple male abusers.
“Folks think it’s about naming and shaming, about taking down powerful men. But they’re wrong,” she told the audience. Burke is “desperate to change the narrative about the ‘Me Too’ movement before it’s too late.”
This refocusing can benefit Black women, who are more likely than other groups to remain silent about sexual assault, according to the Los Angeles Times. Gail Wyatt, a UCLA sexual behavior researcher, first documented the layers of complexity behind the reluctance of Black women to report an assault and seek help.
Experts who work with Black women point to the African-Americans experience with the criminal justice system. There’s a fear, rooted in that history, of wanting to protect Black male abusers from incarceration.
At the same time, Black folks have traditionally turned to clergy for guidance and support in personal matters. However, African-American ministers often do not have training in rape counseling.
During her speech, Burke emphasized her belief that “Me Too” is not going away any time soon.
“It is a mistake to think of this as a moment,” she emphasized. “Movements are long, and they are built over time. Movements are made from moments.”