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Tarana Burke: What’s important about the #MeToo movement

Founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, said in a talk at the KU Union on Tuesday, that she had no idea how big the movement would become, but its magnitude shows the real problem of sexual assault. 

The #MeToo movement shows the millions of people who put their hard-to-tell stories all over the internet Burke said. She said that the stories are all powerful, but the movement is so large because there are so many stories and affected people. “People didn’t understand why MeToo went everywhere,” Burke said, “It’s because this thing is everywhere, like a disease.”

Burke said that when Alyssa Milano used the hashtag and the whole thing blew up, she as the creator could have easily faded away. Burke said the night #MeToo began trending, she read the tweets and was worried that her work would be taken from her. 

“I am frantic, worried about my work, and my work was happening right in front of me,” Burke said.  “My work was all over the internet, all day long.”

A very full ballroom listens as #MeToo movement creator, Tarana Burke, speaks.

Interim Provost, Carl Lejuez, said he was glad Burke could come at this time of difficulty in our country and on campus. The Union Ballroom filled to capacity and spilled into the overflow balcony and adjoining alcoves with more than 1,000 in attendance. 

Burke said she travels around speaking about the movement, rather than telling her own story. She does this to ensure people understand what #MeToo really means. 

“What’s most important about our work is what happens after you say MeToo. It’s about the work that we have to do to get back to ourselves,” Burke said. 

The timer on Burke’s phone went off. She said I told you I wouldn’t stick to my notes once we started talking. She then asked the crowd for 15 more minutes, and they promptly agreed. 

Burke said she is nauseated by the current conversations surrounding MeToo.  Rather than tell stories about the survivors, she said people ask her about the road back for the men who have been convicted.

“Don’t ask me no questions, unless you’re going to ask me what the people who said ‘MeToo’ need to feel whole again. What is our road back?” Burke said.