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#MeToo: Tarana Burke Notes Progress, Wants More for Black Women

"We can't wait for white folks to decide our trauma is worth focusing on," Burke said.

Tarana Burke is reflecting on the movement she created more than 12 years ago, but it's only been one year since its historic rise worldwide. It has led to women speaking out very publicly against assault. And now that it's been endorsed by the upper echelons of white women, we can celebrate its existence.

On Monday, Burke wrote on Twitter that her work supports all sexual assault survivors, but it "has always centered on Black and Brown women and girls. And it always will…"

So when she heard about Lee Daniels making a Me Too comedy, she expressed objections, saying, "We have to get in front of that."

"To put Me Too and comedy in the same sentence is so deeply offensive… that you think in this moment when we're still unpacking the issue that you can write a comedy about it."

Burke doesn't think the media really cares about the stories of Black women and other women of color.

"We can't wait for white folks to decide that our trauma is worth centering on when we know that it's happening," she told the New York Times.

"We know that there are people, whether they're in entertainment or not, who are ravaging our community. We have to be proactive, unfortunately without the benefit of massive exposure. That's our reality, but it always has been."

The majority of Black women in Hollywood have kept their experiences with sexual assault a secret. But there are a few exceptions.

Gabrielle Union has been, according to Burke, the only woman who not only speaks about her story but also advocates. Few others — Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Fantasia Barrino, and Lupita Nyong'o — have talked about it publicly.

"There is knowing that even if you're not trying to bring down a Black man, a large segment of the population will say 'We don't believe her' because of all these things that we normalize," Burke said.

She recalled when a reporter wanted to do a story on R. Kelly and no one would go on record.

"A lot of folks have slid under the radar," she commented.

While she believes the Black community has doubled down on that thinking, she does note progress.

"You could not have had this kind of public discourse with this many people saying that they believe us — we literally have an example in Anita Hill," she told Paper Magazine. "We don't even have to guess what it would've been like or could've been like or what people would've said 20 years ago, we saw it."

In collaboration with the New York Women's Foundation, Burke's Me Too is helping to fund groups serving communities of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ people.

The "Fund for the MeToo Movement and Allies," awarded $840,000 to the DC Rape Crisis center in Washington, the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective in Los Angeles, the Firecracker Foundation in Lansing, Michigan, Black Women's Blueprint and the Violence Intervention Program, both in New York; Equality Labs, a national group; and the Los Angeles-based FreeFrom, which works with survivors of domestic violence.

The partnership's goal is to raise $5 million per year.

"This is about supporting the people who support the people," Burke said.

Reader Question: Why do you think Black women's stories of sexual assault have been largely unheard or drowned out?

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#MeToo Leader's Scandal Exposed: Asia Argento Paid Her Own Accuser

Movement advocates say don't let it discredit the cause.

UPDATE: Aug. 21, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. ET

Argento Says She Never Had a Sexual Relationship with Bennett

The New York Times stands by its report.

In a statement distributed by her Italian lawyer, Asia Argento claims she and her then boyfriend Anthony Bourdain decided to answer Jimmy Bennett's plea for financial help on the condition that Bennett would no longer intrude on their lives. She said that she and Bennett were only friends.

"I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett," Argento said.

She included that it was an "exorbitant request of money" (reportedly $3.5 million) to her following her exposure following the Weinstein accusations.

Bennett's attorney Gordon K. Sattro said asked for the media to "our client some time and space. Jimmy is going to take the next 24 hours, or longer, to prepare his response. We ask that you respect our client's privacy during this time."

The Times reported they received the documents "through encrypted email by an unidentified party," and that they included "a selfie dated May 9, 2013, of the two lying in bed."

A spokesperson for The New York Times told Reuters: "We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting, which was based on verified documents and multiple sources."

ORIGINAL STORY

Asia Argento, a prominent #MeToo movement figure that assisted in the take down of Harvey Weinstein, has come under fire for her own past alleged sex scandal, with a male actor who was 17-years-old at the time (Argento was 37).

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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.

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Weinstein Rebukes Lupita Nyong'o

Jane Fonda asks why sexual assault of Black women gets less attention.

REUTERS

Lupita Nyong'o is the only Black actress to publicly come forward and share her experience of sexual harassment by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

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