On Wednesday, November 1st the founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, visited Hofstra and spoke to students about the path to ending gender-based violence. Burke grew up in the Bronx and after years of activism and helping girls in her community and down south, she started the Me Too movement with a MySpace page.
Now, after the hashtag recently went viral following the allegations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein, she was here to talk to students about how our generation can end gender violence. Burke is an incredible activist and her speech was so inspiring. It was hard picking just eight of her most powerful quotes from the event but here they are.
Photo: Adah Koivula
“I’m really trying to pivot the conversations to solutions instead of numbers.”
Burke dislikes talking about the statistics regarding sexual assault. She says everyone knows the statistics, but often people forget there are stories and people behind each one.
“I know exactly how you feel that happened to me too.”
This is a longer phrase Burke used to describe the start of the #MeToo movement.
“You don’t have to be anything but yourself to be worthy.”
As an activist and youth leader, Burke says this is a common theme she tells young women she works with.
“[Me Too] could be the conversation starter or the whole conversation.”
On the idea behind #MeToo.
“I hear you.”
When someone opens up to you about their experience with sexual violence, she says the most important thing you can say is this, followed by asking “What do you need?”.
“The rage is real.”
An audience member asked Burke about how to handle anger towards an attacker when a loved one comes forward about sexual assault. Burke says it is natural to feel angry, and if the survivor is no longer experiencing violence, they need to be at the center in that moment and feel they are in a safe place.
“Don’t beg for your dignity and your humanity.”
When asked the question how do you respond to someone who says they don’t believe you, Burke said immediately to shut that person down. Get yourself out of there and protect yourself.
“People are ready for something different.”
Burke says she is overwhelmed by the popularity of the movement and the hashtag. After three busy weeks in the news cycle, she says this hashtag still being in headlines is proof society is ready for a change.
Her Campus Hofstra Writers Madie Mento (left) and Adah Koivula (right) with Tarana Burke