9 to 5ish: Tarana Burke

Published on: Oct 20, 2021fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round

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Note: This episode mentions sexual assault, which could be triggering to some listeners. 

Tarana Burke coined the phrase “me too” to help young Black girls in Selma, Alabam talk about sexual assault over a decade ago. But when #MeToo went viral overnight in 2017, Tarana had to figure out how to share her life’s work and its resources with a broader audience. Today, Tarana’s facing new challenges: how to offer sexual assault survivors the resources they need over the internet, and learning to balance her own needs alongside her work.

On Professional and Personal Boundaries

Tarana: I don't create distance. I think that's a myth that you can create [distance]. I often quote Joanne Smith, who is the founder of Girls for Gender Equity, who says we come to the work because we are the work. There is no distance between who I am, what happened to me, and what I do.

On Burnout Recovery

Tarana: Every opportunity I get, I go somewhere to work from a different place. I will work for two hours and sleep for three if I can. I put rest in my calendar. This is a 2021 practice. I am overindulging. And I'm not apologizing for it. That is how I am treating myself nowadays because I have worked so hard. I've worked so hard in my life. I remember days in my twenties and thirties where I was so tired, I fell asleep standing up. 

On Encouraging Rest

Tarana: We equate each of our worthiness with our productivity — you're only worth as much as you can produce. But you are still worthy. If I watch a person pull out from the workspace to prioritize their health, what you are now, what you've now become is an example for what wholeness and healthiness and healing looks like. 

Skimm'd by Alex Carr, Ciara Long, and Peter Bonaventure.


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