Tarana Burke, the sole founder of the #MeToo movement, was featured as one of Time Magazine’s People of The Year for 2017. It is a prestigious award given by an equally esteemed publication. It’s the first time that American women have ever been given the honor. The cover featured the solemn faces of women who were now a part of the eleven-year-old movement.
Burke’s face was not one of those faces. Yes, she was featured on the inside of the magazine even given credit as the movement’s organizer but her face was, surprisingly, not featured on the cover. Taylor Swift was featured but not the sister who has been fighting for black girls for over a decade? Mmkaay. There’s no need to insert the huge disdain I have for Swift here so I will refrain. Moving on.
Many will say that where she appeared doesn’t matter. What’s most important are the recognition and her work. And maybe I would’ve agreed with that if initially when #MeToo began to circulate again; it wasn’t co-opted by white women. I’m all for victims coming forward and being supported. I came forward with my own story because of Tarana. And this outpouring of love has been instrumental in encouraging other victims to step forward and tell their stories as well.
Let’s be honest though. The likely faces of abuse aren’t blonde or fair. They look like Tarana. They look like me. Black children have the highest chances of suffering from abuse. Black boys are more likely to die due to physical abuse but black girls are more likely to be victims of sexual abuse. It’s imperative to repeat these statistics. Although the #metoo hashtag welcomed victims to stand in their truths, there was a whitewashing and even erasure of the many black and brown victims who have gone unheard. I’m not discounting Harvey Weinstein’s victims’ experiences at all. I will say they have better access to support services so they can start to move forward. Most black victims come from low income backgrounds with limited access to resources. Tarana Burke has been THAT resource.
What bothers me most about her absence from the cover is that the magazine went through great lengths to talk about her history in this fight. They were- are aware of the statistics and what color the faces are of most of the girls/ women who’ve been assaulted. They included Tarana in the narrative. However, the narrative was bigger than the words written on their pages. Time Magazine’s narrative should have painted an accurate picture of this struggle with proper representation on its cover.
Tarana front and center.
And I get it. Magazines are in the business of making money. A cover highlighting “America’s Little White Flower” aka Taylor Swift may surely sell a shit ton more copies than my sister’s beautiful face but here’s what I know:
Tarana Burke lent her ears, heart, monies and her love to girls who have continuously been ignored. Even while holding it down for her own daughter. *waves emphatically* Heeeey, Baby Giant!
And she has never asked for recognition or props. THE WORK IS WHAT MATTERS TO HER! She’s the epitome of a Queen. Time Magazine, surely, dropped the ball by not putting her on the cover but they could NEVER diminish her shine.
Love you, Girl!