Unbound by Tarana Burke #BookReview
Book: Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement by Tarana Burke
Publisher: Flat Iron Books
Publication date: 2021
Source: Borrowed e-book from the library
Summary: Tarana Burke began using the words “me too” to encapsulate and honor the way that she wanted to be in community with survivors of sexual abuse, long before it was preceded by a hashtag.
I had gone all over the country–any and everywhere folks would allow me space–talking about how the exchange of empathy between survivors of sexual violence could be a tool to empower us toward healing and into action. (p. 11)
Thoughts: When I first saw #MeToo as it broke out of celebrity-laden Hollywood, I wasn’t aware that it was started by a black woman. Fortunately, I have very cool friends, so it wasn’t long before Tarana Burke’s name became attached to the concept as firmly as Alyssa Milano’s in my social media stream.
This was the July selection of the Community for Understanding and Hope Book Group. We were almost universal in our praise for the book. The one person who was less thrilled with it admitted that was probably due to an acute discomfort with the topic of sexual abuse.
One person plans to keep a copy handy to give to anyone who says, “Why didn’t they report the rape / harassment / abuse earlier?” Unbound tells such a personal story about what happens in the mind of an abused girl that it provides the answer to that in detail.
For me, I think the deep part of the experience of reading this was to catch a glimpse of something that black women in my life aren’t likely to talk about to me. When Tarana Burke spoke out about R. Kelly, she received a hostile backlash a segment of the Black community.
I understood the pain and panic that arose when Black folks heard allegations leveled at Black men. There is no escaping America’s painful history of weaponizing sexual violence as a tool against Black men. The Black community is all too familiar with the fact that we are socialized to respond to the vulnerability of white women in this country. Black folks had seen too many instances of white women’s tears marking the end of Black men’s lives in one way or another. (p. 222)
There’s a complexity in attempting to stand with black women, to build interracial community around #MeToo.
White women, like me, can’t go around talking about R. Kelly or Bill Cosby without raising the specter of white women who got black men and boys killed (Emmett Till) and started a white-on-black riot that wiped out an entire successful community (Tulsa race massacre).
This is one of those situations when standing with black women means being supportive from way in the background — amplifying voices that are not mine. Voices like Tarana Burke’s.
Appeal: If you engaged with the #MeToo movement in any way, please read Unbound. It’s a well-written memoir that moves at a quick and engaging pace.
Challenges: This is my fourth book for the Diversity Reading Challenge.
I haven’t yet read this book, but I’d like to. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement.