THE LEADER

With an ac­tivist spirit and charisma to spare, TARANA BURKE is pro­pelling #Metoo from the head­lines back into the com­mu­nity

InStyle (USA) - - Content - by LAURA BROWN pho­tographed by AN­DREAS LAS­ZLO KONRATH styled by LAU­REL PANTIN

Ac­tivist Tarana Burke isn’t just the #Metoo founder. She’s a woman who loves good jokes, high fash­ion, and the oc­ca­sional whiskey

Ifirst met Tarana Burke in Oc­to­ber 2018 at an Instyle din­ner in Los An­ge­les. We had over­lapped ear­lier that year at the Golden Globe Awards, where she and fel­low ac­tivists joined forces with prom­i­nent ac­tresses to rep­re­sent the launch of Time’s Up. Burke founded #Metoo in 2006 but really surged into the public con­scious­ness in 2017, when the ini­tial sex­ual-as­sault al­le­ga­tions against Har­vey Weinstein sur­faced and the move­ment gath­ered mo­men­tum on­line and be­came a vi­ral hash­tag.

A born ac­tivist, the Bronx, N.Y., na­tive, who is a sur­vivor of sex­ual abuse her­self, be­gan the drum­beat of women speak­ing up, be­ing sup­ported, find­ing peo­ple to lis­ten, and, of course, tak­ing ac­tion.

And she has not stopped. While the in­ten­sity of 2017 has cooled to a more work­able cli­mate, Burke has re­mained stead­fast in her vi­sion. She is fo­cus­ing on cre­at­ing an on­line net­work that sur­vivors can ac­cess to find help on a local level.

That said, she’s not #Metoo all the time. She can’t be. Af­ter Burke walked into our Instyle din­ner that night in Oc­to­ber, I raced up to her and said, “Do you need a glass of wine?” She re­sponded with a prompt yes, a laugh, and a grand re­veal that, while she’s a pi­o­neer, she’s a woman too. One who keeps the cul­ture in per­spec­tive and loves a joke, a whiskey, and a good pair of Fendi boots. Long may she reign.

LAURA BROWN: We know the ori­gins of the #Metoo move­ment, but I’m cu­ri­ous how it runs day to day. TARANA BURKE: So, I never wanted to have an or­ga­ni­za­tion. I have worked at or­ga­ni­za­tions my en­tire life, and I wanted to fig­ure out how to do the work and not have to get into the ad­min­is­tra­tion of it. In 2018 the day to day was do­ing dif­fer­ent bits of me­dia, trav­el­ing around, giv­ing speeches. I would li­aise with a group of women who run other na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions—ai-jen Poo from the Na­tional Do­mes­tic Work­ers Al­liance, Fa­tima Goss Graves of the Na­tional Women’s Law Cen­ter, and [Alianza Na­cional de Cam­pesinas co-founder] Mónica Ramírez, who is my fa­vorite. We were al­ways strate­giz­ing about what’s next and how we move for­ward. But af­ter Brett Ka­vanaugh’s [Supreme Court nom­i­na­tion] hear­ings, I started feel­ing like I needed more struc­ture. LB: Go on.

TB: So, I started the #Metoo In­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion in Novem­ber 2018. And we also part­nered with the global ad agency FCB [Foote, Cone & Beld­ing], which helped us build a tool that serves as a dig­i­tal plat­form of sorts for sur­vivors. And for peo­ple who want to help sup­port them.

LB: Be­cause pre­vi­ously there weren’t many op­tions.

TB: Pre­vi­ously, if you went on the In­ter­net look­ing for help as a vic­tim of sex­ual as­sault, it would send you to one web­site, which is RAINN’S [Rape, Abuse & In­cest Na­tional Net­work]. They are a great or­ga­ni­za­tion and have been do­ing this for a

Ja­son Wu coat. Elo­quii skirt. John Hardy hoops. Bracelets and ring (right hand), her own. Brent Neale ring (left hand). Schutz boots.

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