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Truth from the Mouth of Survivors

Inspiration After Witnessing the Face of the Me Too Movement, Mrs. Tarana Burke

Image Credit: Mrs.Tarana Burke and Survivors

We all have the power to be messengers, holding power in our throats or with our fingers that type away taking so much time to say our truth. The benefits of a platform is that someone is always watching, and if we are lucky, receiving and then spreading the message to others. What is the purpose if we are not listening, and then practicing what we receive for good. At my campus I had the privilege of seeing and hearing Tarana Burke. That is another benefit of University, which is the opportunity to witness current events come to life in front of you. Tarana Burke I found out is from the Bronx New York, she started organizing at the age of 14, and she grew up as a "know it all" kid knowing how to recite "For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow is Enuf" by Ntozake Shange. Her family grew up with immense black pride, which reminds me of my own. Mrs. Burke was a teacher, and she carries herself in my opinion like a modern-day Dr. Maya Angelou. She has a familiar yet a striking, grand presence. Her still strong New-York accent reminded me of my elementary school teachers back in Brooklyn. A teacher is better than any other profession. The good ones change your life and are ingrained in our memories like our first loves.

Mrs. Burke cleared up misconceptions about her movement. Me Too is actually over a decade old, 13 years if I can recall properly. Instead of its one "year "anniversary within the media worldwide. Me Too is a network for survivors of sexual harassment and assault. It is not a movement solely for cis-gendered white-women against "powerful" men. Me Too is not only a woman's movement. Mrs. Burke exclaimed that her movement was originally started for black girls that survived sexual harassment or abuse. While in Alabama Mrs. Burke realized that almost half of the girls in each of her classes were attempting to learn with the trauma of sexual assault or harassment. Many of the perpetrators are close friends or family members to the survivors. Mrs. Burke herself was inspired by her girls to affirm, and believe their stories, and to offer actual healing tools.

Me Too branched out to eventually include women and men of all races, all classes, Queer, non-binary etc. Because in our culture where we learn that boys ultimately have their pick over the bodies of women, and men in cases, then it becomes an ordinary part of culture. Mrs. Burke believes that as early as kindergarten, boundaries should be taught to boys and girls. It is a shame that sexual assault and harassment still in 2018 is a sticky subject within our families, at work, and within our institutions. This trauma going unacknowledged is burdening survivors. If we can't speak out and get healing then it is a slow death of the mind. The death of the mind and voice from experience always manifests physically in due time.

Trauma unhealed or dismissed creates opportunity for more offenders to feel obligated over others' bodies. An unchecked system will always continue without laws or a major cultural shift. My prayer for the Me Too Movement is that the media allows the survivors to continue to define themselves. The perpetrators get far too much limelight. Survivors need to tell their stories to heal and become resilient. Showing other survivors that they belong to all of us can mean wonders. The trauma is painful, but it is not who we are.

I have had cases of being a witness of sexual harassment, and I do consider myself to have been violated by the eyes and pursuits of young boys because of this culture. I remember guys feeling a sort of obligation to look at my developing body. There was one point back in Middle-school that I can recall. He asked me what my bra-size was, and then he wanted to meet me in an isolated part of the back-steps to do God knows what. I remember feeling disgusted from this. I told him to never speak to me again. And he believed me. I have witnessed countless experiences with boys touching girls bodies, harassing comments, and a pouncing on our feelings, with male teachers dismissing it. This culture is shifting because of Me Too.

We need to tell our stories over and over, endlessly until practices change. We need to be in relationship with each other differently, questioning always, and acting differently. Use your strengths to change the world. Don't think so small minded when it comes to survivors getting free. It is an everyday struggle, but we cannot forget. We have to believe each other, and respect our stories. I believe you, Mrs. Burke, and your movement is not just a media story or a moment in time. These are our bodies and hearts. This is about human dignity. Much love to all of my readers <3

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