Teka’s Take: #MeToo
I’m actually writing this part last and you wouldn’t know it if I hadn’t just told you! But I wanted to preface this month’s Take with the acknowledgement that is October, and fall has fell upon us. It’s been a tumultuous time, with hurricanes devastating Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico. Fires raging in California, earthquakes in Mexico and Landslides in Africa. Its also Breast Cancer Awareness month and Domestic Violence Awareness month and October has shed a blinding light on humanity. As invincible as we sometimes believe we all are, we are still human. Just fallible flesh and blood. So if you can, save the cynicism for another time- lend a hand wherever you can and spread love. As usual, I have digressed- so on to this month’s Teka’s Take on….#MeToo.
The whispered revelation of an innocent child was the soft blown flame that would be used to spark a fire in Tarana Burke’s creation of the “Me Too” movement. It was 1996 when then Youth Camp Director Tarana Burke was confided in by a young girl who chose to share her story of abuse by a step-father. Instead of being able to comfort and console the child, Tarana redirected her to another counselor who she felt could “help her better”. That was a defining moment for Burke as she began a journey of helping young women of color who had survived sexual abuse, assault and exploitation. Although relatable to millions, the movement had not reached numbers since its inception like the 4.7 million that it has reached worldwide in a matter of days stemming from a tweet by Alyssa Milano in response to mogul Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations.
Women everywhere rallied together (and some men too) sharing stories of experience, providing empathetic shoulders to lean on and words of support and encouragement flowed through social media. The outpouring of LOVE compelled others to share as well and the spark caught like wildfire and lit up the world.
What’s Teka’s Take on #MeToo? Well to put it honestly and simply… me too.
I was approached or “flashed” if you will, by an inebriated uncle once when I was too young to be scarred, but old enough to know it was wrong. I told – action was immediately taken. I had been saved, rescued and really never bothered again by any of it. It wasn’t until I was much older that the lifelong journey of recovery would become necessary in my life as I was “approached” by someone who was supposed to have been a father figure in my life. He instead became my worst nightmare for what has now seemed like a lifetime of never-ending hurt. Because he has never gone away. I’ll omit the details, but the second assault in my life happened over the course of three or so years. I wanted to tell, but after dealing with a series of unfortunate life events, I felt my mother didn’t need the extra life hassle from me. So I didn’t tell. I avoided. I changed. I became a dangerous former version of my once ridiculously happy version of myself. I haven’t seen that girl in years….only the put back together version of a broken picture that has only aged. As I did so, I’d bargain with what the odds of me confessing what had happen would bring; and I decided my strong, black mother would be so furious, she’d retaliate in a violent way. He was strong and violent- so I decided, I wouldn’t tell for the safety of my mother. We had no family here that could protect her if something happened. So I kept the secret to protect her.
Somewhere around my mid teens, maybe a little before – I decided no more. I felt I was old enough, tough enough and strong enough for myself and my mother to stop what was happening and put an end to it. I was successful in my stance, who knew how much of a coward a coward could be? Still not wanting to stress her, I kept everything to myself. But I still wasn’t fixed. I wasn’t better mentally. I thought I would be…but I had only grown angrier and bitterer. How could she be with such a disgusting person? How could she love and care for such a gross man? Not just for what he did to me, but for how he was treating her. That’s not my story to tell so I’ll leave that there. But in my eyes, he was scum of the earth. It all came to a head when I was told how appreciative of him I should be…needless to say that straw obliterated the camels back and shit hit. the. fan.
I cried out why I shouldn’t appreciate him and somehow sputtered through my years of torment for what seemed like an eternity, but was a matter of mere seconds. Silence filled the room and I’m certain I heard my mother’s heart break. It’s a sound and look I will not soon ever forget. She then countered with the only rational reaction, “no he didn’t”. Then I’m sure she heard my heart break. And then we were gone- a few swift moments and I was safe at a friend’s home, while she sorted things out. I was terrified and relieved all at once- knowing all would be right in the world. After a weekend away, that was short lived, because that weekend was only used to acknowledge my vivid imagination and upon returning to “our home” I was confronted with the same. Accusations backed with references of lies I had been caught in before was all that was needed to confirm I had made it all up. Further heart break. Redemption lost, I was lost with it. I believe I haven’t seen that girl since that day.
That was somewhere around the time a little girl confided in Tarana Burke nearly 21 years ago. The initial and apparently common reaction to get as far away from the idea of what was happening as fast as possible. I won’t bore you with what I’ve since experienced in the 21 years since, but will tell you- women are strong as hell. I’m proud of my strength but can’t say I haven’t endured serious scarring along the way. Without it, would I be the woman I am today? Would I be better or worse off? This, I do not know, but I know what I and the millions of others who have experienced this sort of issue endured some of the most harrowing thoughts, feelings and emotions a human could ever feel. Some, sadly, could not cope with those feelings. Some have yet to confront theirs.
Whatever the situation, if you’re reading these words and have felt this pain, or know someone who has-use that emotion as your fuel to power on. Cowards who exploit and take advantage of other aren’t worth your happiness today. Seek counseling if you must. If that’s not for you, pray, meditate and find your strength. Seek solace in your survival and then, if you’re emotionally able, help others do the same. All too often, our society invites us to mind our own business. Stay out of it. Yet social media has us digging though people’s skeletal closets like we’re the last detective alive. If you’re gonna mine for something mine for diamonds. Use your “digging” to unearth diamonds. Find the hidden gems that may be cased in a world of coal and help them to shine. Each one teach one has always been a favorite saying I’ve learned to live by. Reach back and lift the next sister up and out of the muck this world has created for our youth.
It wasn’t seeing the sadness and desperation in the multitudes of men and women’s stories abuse that sparked others to chime in and say #MeToo…it was empathy. Placing yourself in someone else’s shoes; maybe even because you were actually in them at some point in your life. Perhaps it was because of the levity of seeing how something so saddening was so common. Either way, it opened people’s hearts and minds to the plights of others and LOVE went viral. A commodity we can’t ever afford to lose. So we may not see eye to eye about politics, religion, anthems, flags, standing or kneeling….we can see each other for the human beings we are as the internet has surprisingly shown us. Let’s revel in that. Once the reveling has softened, and you go on about your regularly scheduled life, remember our empathy for each other and most of all, and remember to LOVE.
That’s my take on that. Love love!
Urban Tymes Contributing Writer
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