TIME Magazine Excluding Tarana Burke from #MeToo Cover Speaks Volumes

Burke got it right when she created the movement more than a decade ago, but an almost all white, and mostly male, editorial team didn’t see fit to place her on the cover.

TIME magazine, which named the “Silence Breakers” of the #MeToo social movement as most influential in 2017, excluded the Black woman who founded the movement — Tarana Burke — from the cover.

Burke got it right when she created the movement more than a decade ago in 2006, but an editorial team that is almost 100 percent white and mostly male, didn’t see fit to place her on the cover of one of its most popular issues published last week.

Even though Burke had been raising awareness about sexual harassment and assault for years, “Me Too” has only caught the attention of major media outlets following the more than 50 leading white Hollywood actresses, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment in October.

“Movie stars are supposedly nothing like you and me,” the TIME article begins. “They’re svelte, glamorous, self-possessed. They wear dresses we can’t afford and live in houses we can only dream of. Yet it turns out that—in the most painful and personal ways—movie stars are more like you and me than we ever knew.”

They’ve made the focus of the movement movie stars.

In October, Milano shared the #MeToo hashtag on Twitter and women began to use it to share accounts of sexual harassment. She later acknowledged in a tweet that Burke created the #MeToo movement.

But, again, Black women are marginalized in the movements in which they started, such as the movement against Donald Trump being elected as president, for example. According to exit polls, more than 90 percent of Black women voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, while more than 53 percent of white women voted for Trump.

TIME magazine, recently sold to Meredith Corporation and the deal is linked to the politically active Koch brothers, frames the narrative of the #MeToo movement as if it weren’t for Milano sharing the hashtag, what the magazine calls, “one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s,” may not have taken place.

In the cover story, Burke is mentioned in passing:

“This was the great unleashing that turned the #MeToo hashtag into a rallying cry. The phrase was first used more than a decade ago by social activist Tarana Burke as part of her work building solidarity among young survivors of harassment and assault.

“A friend of the actor Alyssa Milano sent her a screenshot of the phrase, and Milano, almost on a whim, tweeted it out on Oct. 15. ‘If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet,’ she wrote, and then went to sleep. She woke up the next day to find that more than 30,000 people had used #MeToo. Milano burst into tears.”

TIME’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal wrote a column on why the “silence breakers,” women who spoke out about their experiences of sexual harassment and assault, were chosen as “person” of the year.

Felsenthal quoted Milano:

“‘I woke up and there were 32,000 replies in 24 hours,’ says actor Alyssa Milano, who, after the first Weinstein story broke, helped popularize the phrase coined years before by Tarana Burke. ‘And I thought, My God, what just happened? I think it’s opening the floodgates.'”

He then made a parallel to civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

“To imagine Rosa Parks with a Twitter account is to wonder how much faster civil rights might have progressed.”

Never mind that in 2006, Burke, a three-time sexual violence survivor, created Just Be Inc., a nonprofit organization focused on the health, well being and wholeness of young women of color. Over the years many survivors of abuse have credited her for helping them.

A woman tweeted in October:

Then, a follow-up article, “’Now the Work Really Begins.’ Alyssa Milano and Tarana Burke on What’s Next for the #MeToo Movement’” highlights an appearance the woman made on the “Today” show, where the two met for the first time.

The article begins:

“Alyssa Milano, who has roused thousands of women to speak out about their experiences of sexual harassment and assault, joined #MeToo movement creator Tarana Burke on Wednesday to call for more change after Time revealed its 2017 Person of the Year: ‘The Silence Breakers.’”

TIME did publish an article in October talking about how Burke created the Me Too movement. But for the Person of the Year issue, the focus of Burke’s original endeavor is framed by the one tweet from Milano. A Black woman’s quest to change society for the better is now better accepted because a white advocate can also be the face of it.

In an interview with The New York Times last week, actress Gabrielle Union, who is a survivor of sexual violence, pointed out that the #MeToo movement that now exists empowers white women as the plight of women of color has not been taken as seriously.

“I think the floodgates have opened for white women,” Union said. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence whose pain has been taken seriously.

“Whose pain we have showed historically and continued to show. Whose pain is tolerable and whose pain is intolerable. And whose pain needs to be addressed now.

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“If those people hadn’t been Hollywood royalty,” she said. “If they hadn’t been approachable. If they hadn’t been people who have had access to parts and roles and true inclusion in Hollywood, would we have believed?”

Also in October, actress Lupita Nyong’o was the first Black woman to publicly accuse Weinstein of sexual assault, describing the details in a New York Times op-ed. In his denials of wrongdoing, Weinstein has not specifically named any of his more than 50 white female accusers. But he made a public statement responding to Nyong’o’s claim — to flat-out deny it and put the blame on her.

Read more news @ DiversityInc.com

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28 comments


  • Lauri Sue Robertson

    Since the cover of TIME has 3 white women and two women of colour, I think the basis for Tarana Burke’s exclusion was more likely to be ‘beauty’ rather than race. The women shown are noticeably lovely, whereas Ms. Burke’s complexion is not smooth or young. It’s a disgusting bias, but it’s not racial, just cruel.

    • Charity Dell

      LAURIE–“Beauty” for most of these media types has a different set of standards for women of color.

      1. First of all, the media tends to go for those “Barbie Doll” images, which Tarana does NOT fit. That includes
      her nose shape, which is decidedly strong and African, and does not fit the “cute, perky” look.

      2. Also, Black women have to be “cute” or “regal” and NOT TOO BROWN for the media moguls’ tastes.
      Tarana may be darker than some of the pictures show, and the media moguls think “brown skin=lack of sales.”

      3. Realize also, that Black women–despite any qualifications they may have–are just not as valued as the
      blonde, ectomorphic types who resemble Barbie in phenotype

      So their rejection of Tarana is a combination of racism and their fetish for Malibu Barbie.

    • Lauri Sue- Your name is a dead giveaway that you’re speaking as a racist white female with European stereotypes about beauty. I could go on any street in AmeriKKKa and find Black women with wide noses and thick lips 50 times more beautiful than those potato-chip thin lips and pinched noses of those white hags. Lupita N’yongo and Gabrielle Union are 50 times more beautiful than all of them combined. They should have been on the cover with Ms. Burkes!

      Your response also blatantly reflects how shallow most white women [and gay males] are about “beauty.” Ms. Burkes’ movement raising awareness about sexual abuse/survival should trump any “beauty” stereotypes.Oops! I inadvertently used the wrong word–tRump would agree with you because he’s shallow too.

      Who reads that TIMEworn rag anyway?

      • I think you’re being a little harsh on her, but that’s your prerogative. You’re right about TIME magazine, nobody reads it, that’s why the Koch brothers were able to buy the entire company for very little money (relatively speaking) – And they are still going to lose money on it, but those old farts wanted a trophy from their youth. Now they can turn all of the magazines into Fox-lite right wing nonsense for old white racists.

        Decades of white male affirmative action mismanagement destroyed an empire that Henry Luce built and once dominated the planet.

  • So it continues! Racism knows no bounds and is undeniably built into the systems of our world and none so clearly as the world of entertainment and the media. White society has been stealing from Blacks as long as Blacks have been in this country and they continue to do so today. Everything from the creation of music genres to inventive discoveries that modernize our live to this day. We started it and they stole it and propagated it as if it was their idea. What a sad epitaph we will have in the history books of the future!!!

  • Joyce Matthews

    You have to accept the fact that white people rule America. If there is a problem or concern, it will not be acted upon until it impacts white people or their money. As far as stealing, the greatest theft was land from the Native Americans. And to justify it laws were put in place to make it legal. That’s what is taking place now. Change the laws.
    I agree with Lauri Robertson. Ms. Burke was left off the cover because they did not find her attractive. Only unattractive men are allowed.

    • Charity Dell

      As far as the media moguls are concerned, only when “Anglo-Malibu Barbie” is threatened is there any need to
      listen to the victim’s plight.

    • I know it’s wrong to compare catastrophes, but slavery was — at least — an equally-great theft. Both were genocide and morally-indefensible.

  • It’s wrong to not give credit where credit is due, but in the long run if the movement is successful, whoever started it or put a face to it, in stopping sexual harassment I call it a grand day. It is however very sad that apparently it took “white victims” for it to gain the traction that it has. Sad indeed.

  • No worries Tarana. The truth is there, shall always be there. Your genius created “me too”. You are very beautiful, natural. Organic fruits are the best not the polished shiny fertilizer grown type. Fake faces with photography enhancements are still artificial looks. Real beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, intrinsically real. No worries my lovely natural beauty Tarana. Front page on time magazine is just a piece of ordinary printed paper. All the faces of every race are beautiful. Tell Time Magazine to photograph faces from the Hollywood rehab and faces from the Hollywood plastic surgeons offices, and some of the faces in the murder units in hail, and add some from the psychiatric wards of hospitals and tell us which race is not beautiful. No worries Tarana. Talk to the most beautiful wealthiest woman, a genius on the planet now called Oprah Winfrey! Who is Black. She is not on the 2017 front page of Time Magazine. No worries. I am a very beautiful Black 71 year old woman who looks so young people give me 45; but Time Magazine does not even have a clue that a natural energetic vibrant smooth Black beauty like me exists. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Just one ordinary printed sheet of over rated paper called front page. With the false pitch underneath this particular 2017 front page; history shall have to make the necessary fact check and order a reprint: “…new last page from 2017 Time Magazine fake front page.” Laugh it all off. We are all beautiful and we all have genius potential. Watch the movie “Hidden Faces”. The truth can never be erased. Not in this lovely great land of America the Beautiful.

  • The exclusion of women who are Black Like Me Too is common in racist AmeriKKKa. Most whites want to falsely believe in their own benevolence which is virtually nonexistent. Milano intentionally excluded Ms. Burkes because, like most arrogant and narcissistic whites, they have to be the GREAT WHITE HOPE.

    What happened to Ms. Burkes is how they misappropriate everything Black, whitewash, homogenize it until it’s lily white– it has lost its flavor, taste and impact–Kaepernick-esque. Stealing countries, inventions and ideas is as AmeriKKKan as apple pie.

    The Time cover with all those white women is a joke. White women NEVER have been allies with any Black women at any time in history–they are enemies, aiding and abetting white male racists and rapists in our suffering and abuse. Sarah Huckabilly, imPalin, and those sly as a Fox witches are prime examples. Even worse now is that white lesbians in prominent, powerful positions have become the sexual harassers of Black women. The next movement I would start for Black female victims of white lesbian sexual harassment will be #THEM TOO!

    • To be fair, from what I read, Milano received the #MeToo tweet and passed it along—she wasn’t told until after she tweeted it that it was originally created by Tarana Burke, and apparently as soon as she found that out, she did give Burke credit for being the original creator of the hashtag.

    • Dear Ms. ZaziJams,

      I read your remarks on here a lot, and I have to out myself as a white woman (I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a mystery, though). It’s not that I disagree with any of the things you are saying at the core, and I also realize that you probably couldn’t care less if I do. It’s just that you seem to write-off so many humans as evil and full of knowing ill-intent. I know we white people, and white women, are responsible for and complicit in so much racism and pain; and we’re f**ked up.

      I also know it’s white privilege that allows me to be hurt by your tone and to express that here with confidence, in response to some things that haven’t even effected me as a white person. It’s just that as a human (with a lot of admitted privilege), I still want to address your post because I find the way you deliver the crucial feedback we need to be extremely unhelpful.

      I think it gives racist whites in particular ammunition for more racism, and I want, with all of my heart, to truly be an effective ally-to-accomplice. Please allow me the grace of accepting my good intentions, even if I am unwittingly falling into white knight syndrome. Please accept my apology on that and know that I am trying so hard to be conscious of that in myself. I understand and accept that you may say, “F your ‘help’; I don’t need it” I understand that you may not care what I have to say b/c your response is not for me, so I won’t speak any further on your approach than what I have just said.

      However, as a straight, cis woman who is also privileged in that area, I find what I believe is justifiable offense in your homophobic tone, with comments impuning gay men and white lesbians. I feel this is unfounded and unfair of you, and it has the potential to hurt all humans who are LGBTQ, including those who are also strong, compassionate and wise people of color. Thank you for listening to me as a human woman who admittedly has limited credibility to respond on this. I wish you peace and strength, and I am sorry for my role in hurting you.

      ~ Nicole

      • Me too sounds like a women's issue

        I am second generation American. Like many others I feel no guilt for the atrocity of slavery in America, since my people were still being sold under Feudalism along with the land in Russia after American slavery ended. And my people died in pogroms before that and concentration camps after that. If this is an issue to unite all women, and it should be so our combined strength can be most effective, the credit goes to Tarana Burke, the beautiful Black woman who started this unifying of all women under one banner, #MeToo. Why can’t we unite under one banner to add our strength to each other for support? Will those who would rather divide us by colors in the past and those who would continue to divide us by colors in the present, allow it? I have zero tolerance for past racial discrimination and zero tolerance for current racial discrimination.

  • They missed Juanita Broaddrick and a few more of Bill Clinton’s victims, too, but who ever wanted to believe them? Bill Clinton was popular, the stock market was growing, why couldn’t those women just shut up and go away?

    • Broaddrick eliminated herself, when she and her attorney filed an affidavit, in order to get out of being deposed in the Paula Jones case, testifying that Clinton had not engaged in any type of sexual misconduct toward her.

      • Yeah, kinda the same way Anita Hill eliminated herself from being believed by Biden and the rest of the Senate in the Clarence Thomas hearings by following Thomas from job to job, right?

        • You’re giving Biden and his colleagues too great a pass. The fact that Anita Hill went along with Thomas’ quid pro quo sexual harassment didn’t make it any less wrong.

  • Time needs to do a follow-up story, focusing more on Tarana Burke. You, Luke, might be able to influence them to do so.

  • Glad to hear about a follow up article, but I think Ms. Milano’s tweet breathed some much needed life into a movement that was not well known. Time celebrated this and brought even greater attention. That’s a good thing. Since we are on a “diversity” site, I think we need to be color blind on this one and be sisters who collectively say “me too.”

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