Before Alyssa Milano, #MeToo began with activist Tarana Burke 10 years ago

Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 9:36 AM

Activist Tarana Burke created the Me Too movement over 10 years ago to  amplify the voices of survivors of sexual abuse, assault and exploitation, particularly women of color.
@strangebirdproductions
Activist Tarana Burke created the Me Too movement over 10 years ago to amplify the voices of survivors of sexual abuse, assault and exploitation, particularly women of color.(@strangebirdproductions)

In wake of mounting sexual harassment and assault allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein, Alyssa Milano tweeted a call to victims to share their stories. 

“If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet,” the actress wrote in October.

The hashtag spread far and wide, but Milano isn’t the originator of using the phrase to bring attention to these stories. That credit belongs to Tarana Burke, a New York-based sexual assault, abuse and exploitation activist.

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“It's not about a viral campaign for me,” Burke told CNN Oct. 17. “It’s about a movement.”

CNN reported that Burke began the movement -- the genesis of which happened in 1996 -- when she was a youth camp director and heard a young girl’s story of abuse.

“For the next several minutes this child ... struggled to tell me about her ‘stepdaddy’ or rather her mother’s boyfriend who was doing all sorts of monstrous things to her developing body…” Burke wrote on the Just Be youth organization website. “I was horrified by her words, the emotions welling inside of me ran the gamut, and I listened until I literally could not take it anymore…which turned out to be less than 5 minutes. Then, right in the middle of her sharing her pain with me, I cut her off and immediately directed her to another female counselor who could ‘help her better...’

“I could not muster the energy to tell her that I understood, that I connected, that I could feel her pain,” she wrote, later adding, “I watched her put her mask back on and go back into the world like she was all alone and I couldn’t even bring myself to whisper…me too.”

Burke told CNN she began the movement to help young women of color who survived sexual exploitation, abuse and assault. 

“It started with young people and I quickly realized adults needed it too,” she said. “When you experience trauma and meet other people that have a similar experience, and you show empathy for each other, it creates a bond.”

#MeToo continues to be tweeted and shared on other social media spaces, including Facebook and Instagram. 

“Somebody asked me, does this (campaign) amplify your work? And it does in a certain way, but also when this hashtag dies down, and people thinking about it, I'll still be doing the work,” Burke told the Los Angeles Times

“I think the viral moment is great but the amplification of that -- I worry about disclosing their status as survivors en masse on social media and not having space to process,” she told CNN. “I worry about survivors coming on to social media and being bombarded with messages of ‘me too.”

What Is "Me Too" On Social Media?

Milano has since tweeted that she was made aware of the origin of the movement. “(T)he origin story is equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring,” she wrote with a link to the Just Be website.

Before then, some were critical, Ebony magazine reported. To a number of women of color on Twitter, Milano’s elevation of #MeToo and the day-long Twitter boycott following Rose McGowan’s temporary account deactivation ignored the fact that black women and other women of color are excluded from conversations. 

“Where was the boycott when actress and comedian Leslie Jones was harassed by trolls to the point of deleting her account for months?” writer Ashley C. Ford wrote in a Refinery29 essay.

“I think that women of color use social media to make our voices heard with or without the amplification of White women,” Burke told Ebony. “I also think that many times when White women want our support, they use an umbrella of ‘women supporting women’ and forget that they didn’t lend the same kind of support.”

“I don’t think it was intentional but somehow sisters still managed to get diminished or erased in these situations,” she added. “A slew of people raised their voices so that that didn’t happen.”

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Hundreds of Pittsburgh protesters marching over death of Antwon Rose shut down traffic for miles

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 11:10 PM
Updated: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 1:16 AM

Officer Allegedly Kills Unarmed Teen After Being Sworn In Hours Before

Hundreds of marchers took to the streets of Pittsburgh Thursday night, protesting the fatal police shooting of a teenager during a traffic stop Tuesday night.

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Traffic was brought to a standstill as protesters spilled onto Pittsburgh’s Parkway East.

The protest was described by WPXI reporters on the scene as “tense,” but “peaceful so far.”

Marchers, holding signs and cell phones, sat down in the street, blocking traffic and causing a back up for miles. 

Protestors were told to voluntarily disperse by 1 a.m. Friday. Pennsylvania State Police were preparing to open up the highway, according to state police major commander William Teper. 

Residents are angry and upset over the fatal police shooting of unarmed 17-year-old Antwon Rose.

Allegheny County police officials said that Rose was a passenger in a vehicle stopped in East Pittsburgh around 8:20 p.m. Tuesday because it fit the description of a car seen fleeing the area of a shooting in the nearby borough of North Braddock. As an officer handcuffed the driver of the car, which investigators said had bullet damage to the back window, Rose and a second passenger got out of the car and ran. 

Footage of the shooting posted on Facebook Tuesday shows the scene from a distance. The 18-second video shows Rose and the other passenger, who has not been found by police, get out of the car and make a break for the yard between two nearby houses.

Three shots are heard and one of the passengers appears to fall into the grass.

Rose, who police officials said was struck three times, was taken to McKeesport Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. 

The Allegheny County medical examiner on Thursday ruled the teen’s death a homicide. 

The East Pittsburgh police officer who shot and killed Rose  was sworn in just hours before the fatal encounter.

Mayor Louis Payne told WPXI Wednesday that the unidentified officer who killed Rose previously spent seven years working in other departments, but confirmed that he was working his first shift following his official swearing in with the East Pittsburgh Police Department.

Pictured is the spot on East Pittsburgh's Grandview Avenue where unarmed teen Antwon Rose was shot and killed by a police officer Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Witnesses said Rose, 17, was shot in the back as he ran from a traffic stop.(Keith Srakocic/via AP)

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Driver surprised by snake surrounding leg while driving

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 8:59 AM

Woman Finds Snake Wrapped Around Leg While Driving

Time to get a new car! 

A woman said she was driving when she felt something on her leg. And it wasn’t her imagination. The unidentified woman saw a six-foot-long snake slithering up her leg, WSPA reported.

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A pest removal service in Rutherford County said that a customer of theirs had a box in her car that she was taking to the dump. The box had been sitting outside and the snake had crawled in. The Bug Man reminded people in its Facebook post about the incident, to always check boxes and planters before moving them. Snakes and other critters can make containers their home.

She called police for help and they got the serpent out of her vehicle using snake tongs, WSPA reported.

The stowaway’s story doesn’t end there. The snake actually got out of its container while police were relocating it, but eventually got out of the police car and made its way into a creek, WSPA reported.

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Teen sucked into drainage pipe by floodwaters, emerges across street

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 10:43 PM

Ben Smith estimates he was trapped in the pipe for about a minute before washing out in a small creek on the other side of the road. (WPXI.com)
Ben Smith estimates he was trapped in the pipe for about a minute before washing out in a small creek on the other side of the road. (WPXI.com)

A Pennsylvania teenager admits he’s lucky to be alive after getting sucked into a drainage pipe underneath a road south of Pittsburgh.

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Ben Smith was helping clear debris from outside of neighbors’ houses during massive flooding Wednesday night.

"There was a quick moment when I thought I wouldn't get out. It felt like I was going down," Smith said. "We were trying to move a van away from it and clear some debris. I went to go after this wood panel and my foot slipped and I just went right under."

Neighbors tried to pull him out, but the floodwater was too strong and Smith was washed away.

He said his instincts and Eagle Scout training kicked in.

"It teaches you to be prepared for any sort of circumstance that comes your way," Smith said. "I knew going against the water would not work at all. So I just tucked in and hoped I could end up somewhere."

Smith estimates he was trapped in the pipe for about a minute before washing out in a small creek on the other side of the road.

He escaped with no broken bones and no major injuries, which shocked his friends and neighbors.

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Weird-looking ancient sea creature named after President Barack Obama; it’s actually an honor

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 10:40 PM

Two new fossils discovered by UC Riverside researchers  in South Australia. The one named after former President Barack Obama, Obamus coronatus, is on the left. The other is named after British naturalist  Sir David Attenborough.
Two new fossils discovered by UC Riverside researchers in South Australia. The one named after former President Barack Obama, Obamus coronatus, is on the left. The other is named after British naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

Former President Barack Obama was such a friend to science and so passionate about a diverse number of scientific issues that researchers at the University of California at Riverside decided to honor him by naming an ancient sea creature after him.

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Obamus coronatus, translated means Obama crowned, was a disc-shaped, ocean-dwelling sea creature, which lived in the Earth’s shallow oceans between 580 and 540 million years ago, according to UCR researchers. It had raised spiral groves on its surface and scientists believe it was stationary, embedded in the ocean mat, “a thick layer of organic matter that covered the early ocean floor,” according to a statement.

The animals were soft-bodied and lived in the Precambrian era at the dawn of animal life, researchers said. They were discovered in South Australia’s Ediacara Hills in Flinders Ranges as fossils in sandstone that had been preserved for hundreds of millions of years.

These animals “are a new body plan, unlike anything else that has been described,” lead researcher Mary Droser said.

>> Related: New dinosaur with razor-sharp claws and jagged teeth unearthed in Argentina

“We have been seeing evidence for these animals for quite a long time, but it took us a while to verify that they are animals within their own rights and not part of another animal,” Droser said.  

The discovery of Obamus coroanatus was first reported in the online Australian Journal of Earth Sciences on June 14.

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