By: Kaylin McGlothen
President of Dillard University Dr. Walter Kimbrough, better known as The Hip Hop Prez, launched a lecture series that invites guests to the campus of Dillard University to talk about
relevant topics in our society. This series is free and open to the public. Last year’s guests, such as Keke Palmer, Remy Ma, and Leslie Brown, were brought over to speak at no cost to the university. A couple of other guests within the last year include Angela Rye, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Gabrielle Union, Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, Jamele Hill, and Sheba Turk. The community is expecting a plethora of other popular socialites.
Going into its sixth season, Fall 2018 continues the series with its first guest of the year, Tarana Burke. In the introduction, Hip Hop Prez acknowledges the lack of conversation about important problems in our communities. Why do we not speak on certain topics if we KNOW they are a problem? His answer was, “Because there is a wide range of issues that we don’t fully understand, are reluctant to discuss, or
don’t pay enough attention to.” Tarana Burke was a little brown girl that grew up in a strictly pro-black household in Harlem, New York. She grew up with the struggle of being abused by her mother’s boyfriend. This experience aided in her commitment to serve. At 14 years old, she became apart of 21st Century’s youth group to be a community organizer. Her first organized event was against the current U.S President, Donald Trump, in his infamous Central Park Jogger Case. Burke admitted that her role with 21st Century was a way to hide from the reality of her sexual assault.
During a leadership camp for boys and girls in Selma, Alabama (27% African American population), she became a mentor to a little brown girl she calls Heaven. Heaven confided in Ms.Tarana and told her she was being sexually assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend. It was all too familiar and it began her acceptance that there in fact IS a problem. As she got further into the project, she began to see more cases of sexual harassment in these young brown children. Seventh grade girls commonly with 21 year-old boyfriends, and girls explaining sexual
encounters their fathers have had while in the same bed sparked a conversation to emphasize the vocabulary to describe this issue; sex·u·al ha·rass·ment. Trying to “stay in her lane” but kind of testing the limits of ‘appropriate conversation’, Tarana Burke witnessed Rape Crisis centers in poorly placed areas reject potential victims without appointments in a community where 27% of black communities get care. In 2007, “Me Too” became Tarana Burke’s staple phrase. On October 15th, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted “#metoo”; this produced movement. The rapid movement of #metoo in the media led her to express global community of survivors coming together, spreading empowerment through empathy, and cultivating joy as a point of personal healing and most importantly, individual healing. Community and individual healing are both necessary. These steps ultimately lead to concrete policies and practices.
During the last year, Tarana has visited 83 colleges (Dillard being the only HBCU) to ignite conversations about the 66% of women with the chance of getting assaulted AGAIN by adulthood and the 9.9% of undergraduate sexual assaults reported on HBCU campuses. We need to become a safe place for this conversation, as a community. Burke emphasizes that #metoo is not just for women looking for recovery! Family secrets will end communities to save the little brown children without a voice. Tarana continues to build #metoo with a $25 million New York Women’s Foundation #MeToo Movement Fund to provide resources for On the Ground groups (survivor groups) that need support.
“Medias make movements and headlines.” - Tarana Burke
Ventress Johnson (TXSU)