TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - The founder of the #MeToo movement shared the history behind the hashtag with college students in Tampa Tuesday.
Two years after the hashtag went viral, Tarana Burke said the message of MeToo has been lost.
She says she’s working to bring the focus back where it belongs. She believes news coverage of high-profile cases focuses too much on the perpetrators and not the survivors.
“You have millions of people who are all coming together at one time saying that my life has been affected by this. This happened to me. Then, it would make sense from a journalistic standpoint to dig deeper and find out why,” she said.
Burke has been working to bring awareness to sexual violence for decades.
“It was an issue that we had to beg people to talk about, talk about behind closed doors. School systems didn’t really want to tackle it,” Burke said.
In January, a documentary released on Lifetime highlights years of sexual abuse allegations surrounding singer R. Kelly. Burke was a part of that film and she shared how it gave black survivors a platform.
“They just weren’t a part of the whole narrative that was happening, so the documentary was important,” said Burke.
FOX 13’s Briona Arradondo asked Burke how she believes Me Too impacts survivors in the black community who haven’t seen their stories shared in popular media.
“I think it’s difficult for all communities but for communities of color in particular, like the black community or Latino community. We have some cultural norms that prevent us from really dealing with this issue head-on,” she said.
As the movement continues to shape our culture, Burke said it should drive people to not be complicit to sexual violence, instead to step up and change.
“I want women and I want men and I want people to walk through life with their full dignity intact, knowing that they can move how they want to in life without being judged or touched,” Burke said.
Some industries are taking note and sharing messages to do better, like the latest Gillette commercial. Burke said she believes it didn’t accuse all men of toxic masculinity, instead bringing attention to what’s happening.
“I could do 1,000 speeches a year, and Gillette could do a commercial and say to more people in those 30 seconds or in those 60 seconds than I could travel around the country,” Burke said. “The market has to follow what people want. And the people, by virtue of millions of people using the hashtag, are saying that we want a different thing.”
Burke believes more companies should follow Gillette’s lead because she said large companies have the power to set a tone.
She said she believes everyone no matter their gender or identity should want to do better and stand up against sexual violence.