A hashtag is a symbol on social media that serves as a gateway to interconnectivity. Interest, entertainment, and social movements are a few examples of why social media users post hashtags. Recently, one hashtag brought together thousands of strangers with familiar circumstances with two words, “me too.”
In October of 2017, actress and singer Alyssa Milano posted a status on Twitter in hopes to give light to a prevalent issue in America : sexual harassment. She encouraged those who have experienced this form of abuse to comment, “ me too.” As a result, Milano received a plethora of responses which also yielded a multitude of other personal stories that emerged on all platforms of social media. In effect, hashtagging “Me Too,” became a way for victims to transform their vulnerable state into unity and power.
Although the hashtag spread like wildfire through social media in a matter of hours, the movement preceded Milano’s tweet. Back in 2006, activist, Tarana Burke of the Bronx, introduced the Me Too Movement. Burke spearheads an organization to give a voice to victims who dealt with sexual harassment, in which she traveled to different cities such as Philadelphia to empower individuals to come forward and speak their truth.
Celebrities, politicians, and everyday civilians alike began to share their personal stories and exposing their aggressors. Among the familiar names was the head of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein who had a little more than 80 accusers come forward. Hollywood is only one of the tentacles of the Me Too movement. Politicians such as John Conyers of Michigan and Journalists such as the Today Show’s Matt Lauer were also accused of sexual harassment. As a result, individuals have either been removed or stepped down willingly from their current positions.
Though a number of people come forward each day to share their stories, the movement also represents those who feel more comfortable keeping their vulnerability wrapped in silence. It allows for those individuals to recognize that they are not alone and as the renowned media proprietor, Oprah Winfrey, stated at the Golden Globes, “ Times Up.”
On Saturday, March 10, 2018, around two dozen Bronxites were able to have a personal encounter with Burke. Thanks to the Bronx Native shop in Mott Haven, individuals of all ages were able to gather in a cozy space to discuss her work, her wisdom and her strength. Most importantly, it gave the lucky few a chance to say two very important words to Burke, “thank you.”