Hashtag History: #MeToo
The woman behind the hashtag
“If all of the women and men who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” This sentence, preceded by “Me too,” first appeared as a tweet on October 14, 2017.
As the growing number allegations of sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood turned the #Metoo hashtag into a trending topic, the sentiment resonated with survivors of abuse in an acute way. The spark was ignited. Yet initial press coverage and conversation left out the hashtag’s originator, activist Tarana Burke, founder of the Me Too Movement.
But Black Twitter was having none of that, starting with journalist Britni Danielle tweeting, “Shout out to my girl @TaranaBurke who has been advocating for assault victims & saying #MeToo for years. http://metoo.support/,” with a video of Burke speaking to a crowd. Her tweet set the record straight less than eight hours after #Metoo began trending. More tweets and news stories followed. And soon even celebrity influencers were spreading the message that #Metoo was sparked by the activism of a black woman more than 10 years ago.
“I’m not upset because it had to take something,” Burke says of the delayed credit. “Would it be great if people could just believe survivors the first time and it doesn’t take 30 and 40 people coming forward? Yes. Would it be great if it didn’t take a white woman tweeting about something before people felt it was relevant? Absolutely. But the fact that those are the things that brought this conversation to the forefront doesn’t bother me because it’s here now… Once you’ve done that, they can’t go back [from] it.”