Tarana Burke hopes to normalize conversation around sexual violence in Black community

Burke launched a new initiative "We, as Ourselves," with the National Women's Law Center and TIME'S UP Foundation to help Black women survivors.

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Tarana Burke announced a new partnership with the National Women’s Law Center and TIME’S UP Foundation to help change the conversation about sexual violence and its impact on Black communities.

Read More: #MeToo issues statement in support of ‘Black Survivors’ following T.I. & Tiny allegations

In an editorial written for PEOPLE, the activist shared the goal of We, as Ourselves is to help shine a necessary light on Black women.

“We have made it very popular to celebrate Black women. We talk about Black women saving democracy and Black women showing up when they really need them and we got “Black Girl Magic,” but we do not make space for Black girls’ pain,” she wrote. “If you’re going to talk about how many of us show up to vote and all the magic we have, you have to also talk about all the trauma that we hold.”

TIME 100 Gala 2019 - Lobby Arrivals
Tarana Burke attends the TIME 100 Gala 2019 Lobby Arrivals at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 23, 2019, in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TIME)

In the article, she shared the project has been in the works for over a year. Burke and her team made the conscious decision to launch as Black History Month closed and Women’s History Month began because “it’s representative of the intersection that most Black women find themselves in.”

With We, as Ourselves, she hopes to advocate for Black women who have been left out of the #MeToo movement.

“The campaign is largely about addressing the deficit of attention when we hear Black people come forward and say that they’ve dealt with sexual violence. I see it as a continuation of the work of the #MeToo movement. The interesting thing is that Black women have never been left out of the #MeToo movement, but we have been left out of the media coverage of the #MeToo movement and we’ve been left out of the popular narrative of what the movement is about.”

The campaign also hopes to shift community conversations and behavior among Black people.

“I hope the campaign normalizes the conversation around sexual violence in the Black community. It’s very possible for us to make some tremendous strides if we can think about it differently and give each other some space and some grace,” Burke wrote. “It is important to understand other people’s stories because liberation is not just about myself. I don’t know all Black stories. I don’t know how Black military people live. I don’t understand the Black disabled community. That’s not my experience, but I want to know.”

SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations: "Black Earth Rising"
Michaela Coel attends SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations: “Black Earth Rising” on January 22, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Actress Michaela Coel, creator of the acclaimed series I May Destroy You recently thanked Burke for her work in dismantling rape culture. Bustle reported during the 2021 Royal Television Society (RTS) Programme Awards, the show won big. In three separate acceptance speeches delivered via video, Coel dedicated the space to several Black women.

“Sexual assault is at the forefront of public discourse,” Coel said, according to the report. “I suspect [Burke’s] bravery and resilience may have contributed to the bravery and resilience I mustered to write these scripts, that broadcasters and producers mustered up to support me wholeheartedly through an unusual and difficult process.”

She also paid tribute to  “visible” Black women, such as Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Wunmi Mosaku, and Sharon Duncan-Brewster.

Read More: #MeToo founder Tarana Burke on Biden sexual misconduct allegations

“But I want to dedicate this award to the darker of our gender, Black women, whose mothers are currently four times more likely to die in childbirth or pregnancy, who live under particularly cruel scrutiny by the media sometimes simply for not being white, whose vulnerability and tenderness is often overlooked simply for not being white.”

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