In 2007, Tarana Burke founded a non-profit organization to help victims of sexual violence. Her mission was propelled by the phrase she coined: me too. She sought out resources and support for victims that she had struggled to find previously. Over a decade later, her words became a movement.
As I was preparing my remarks, a little birdie sent me a copy of the open letter to Dr. Blasey Ford from Tarana Burke. I think I read the two page letter at least four times the night I received it. Tonight, I would like to share a little snippet of Tarana’s letter:
We remembered the times we had not been believed.
We remembered the times we had been believed, and disparaged anyway.
We remembered how long ago we’d put our pain in a box and tucked it away so we’d be able to survive in a world that didn’t care.
We were quiet because you’d been called to open the box.
We were afraid for you.
Because we remembered.
As I watched her testimony, I also remembered those that did believe. I remembered those that understood the weight and significance of Dr. Blasey Ford’s words, that “indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter.” I remembered the advocates that answered the call at two in the morning. I remembered the horses & equine therapists that listened without judgment. I remembered the educators & the prevention workers & the trainers & the counselors. I remembered those that did believe.
The voices of the #meToo movement, from Tarana Burke to Christine Blasey Ford, are critical in our vision of freedom from sexual violence. This is why we thank them and honor them.
Without current & former Ampersand staff & volunteers, voices like mine would not be empowered to say boldly, #meToo. Without your compassion & support & advocacy, countless survivors would have worse outcomes. Without the tireless efforts on your part, victims would not make that journey to survivor. They would not be able to reach behind them and lift up other victims.
And, so, as we honor the movement, we also honor those behind the scenes, again, using words from Tarana Burkes’s letter:
We will be grateful forever to you…
You’ll see our gratitude in our straightened spines.
You’ll see it when we march, when we walk out, when we show up.
You’ll see it in the voting lines that go on forever.
You’ll see it when you read our names on ballots.
You’ll hear it in our reawakened voices.
You’ll feel it in our strengthened siblinghood.