PERSPECTIVE: #MeToo intertwines with other issues, too

The great thing about social movements is their ability to get people talking. But the real question I have about the recent #MeToo movement is: Is this the talking that will mobilize change?

For women, and especially women of color, it seems as though the last great breakthrough, the last great movement, happened decades ago. As a Generation X woman, I have to harken back to times I don’t remember, but because of the nostalgia, feel as if I have remembrance. I am a by-product of these past movements — the sexual revolution, women’s liberation and the wonderful conflation of the pushing out and breaking down of those traditional mores that kept women bound for so long.

PERSPECTIVE: #MeToo shows how big the problem is

The ability to have a voice; the ability to have a choice in a pant suit or a wrap-dress; and the ability to break through the glass ceiling. The cries of being smart, strong and bold were a normalized cry from the Baby Boomers to the girls of my generation. We did not necessarily identify with the hardships prior generations experienced to get us here, although we thought we did.

“I’m Black and I’m Proud.”

That statement, intertwined with gender, for me, like so many, was the preparation needed for the civil- and social-rights revolution. It was about identity and spirit, and about the breaking of glass ceilings and ancient barriers. And although I was born a moment past the swell of the civil-rights movement, I again feel like I was there. The palpable effects that permeated that time ushered me to be all I could be, fell easily upon me. And I knew — that I was a black girl and many people before me paved a way; maybe even the way. I was to continue to push out, and shoulder-carry and strive forward and put my back into it; for we shall overcome. And so I did.

RELATED VIDEO: What Is “Me Too” On Social Media?

So now, me too.

Being a black girl meant there were some things one quickly realized. I don’t remember the first objectification; the unsolicited touches, the unapologetic innuendos, remarks, propositions, demands. And the need to be protected and to be ready to protect myself were omnipresent. Be alert; know your surroundings; never walk alone; lock the doors; watch what you wear — intertwined and overlapped with be smart; watch what you say; use proper English; be still; you are representing black folks, you have to be better prepared than anyone in the room; be articulate; no errors.

Quickly, insidiously, I knew: I was the object and the receiver of masculine wiles — uncertain and unsure when the next micro-aggression would be attempted or when I would move from one conversation to then navigating sexual advances. And it was the same. I have to be as quickly responsive and agile with race; and to be ready when I move from one conversation to a statement about my race or better, the stereotypical conclusions about race, micro-inequities. And so it goes….

RELATED: Men respond to #MeToo with #HowIWillChange, promises to do better

For me, #MeToo represents more than the sexual violence against women; it represents the platform for all women, specifically, white women, to advocate for all women, not just when class and structure clamor.

Black women have been waiting for white women — all women — to connect the dots. When any woman is assaulted, all women are assaulted. For those of us who intersect and carry the weight of race and gender, the shared woman experience is broad enough, big enough and heavy enough to warrant us all. #MeToo is not linear. An assault on a black woman is an assault on a white woman and therefore, an assault on all women.

As a black woman, I know my status depends on how majority women are perceived. I have often looked up and in back and around when issues disproportionately affect black women, to see no one else there. I immediately connect the dots; I know that any woman’s plight will disparagingly hurt black women more. I would like our shared MeToo hashtag to really mean — me too — in health care; in pay wages; in professional leadership and representation; in violence against our children, our black boys; in education; and in sexual violence.

READ THIS NEXT: Hundreds in Hollywood march against sexual harassment

We are patient; women, and especially women of color. This may be it — this may be our time as social consciousness undulates, buttoning history, which may be the surge needed to uncover sexual, hidden aggression and violence against women. I am hopeful that our time is now. That there is now a critical mass of class, affluent and privileged women to convene and organize all women to demand to men — Stop it! And demand to women — Say it! And then to look to me — a black woman and say — Me too!

Shannon Isom is President and CEO of the Dayton YWCA.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: Republicans must lead in upcoming abortion debate

This year, as every year, I will be joining the hundreds of thousands who will be arriving in Washington, D.C., for the March for Life, noting the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion on demand in our country. The event has taken place every year since 1973 and will continue to take place every year until this disastrous...
Opinion: Sofia Vergara, frozen embryos and forced procreation

The Supreme Court of Colorado will soon rule on whether a person has a constitutional right to not procreate. The dispute is between Drake Rooks and his ex-wife, Mandy Rooks. The couple were married in 2002. They had three children using in vitro fertilization, but were left with six frozen embryos. In 2014, they divorced. Now they are embroiled in...
Opinion: In Oregon, progressivism spills over at the pump

WASHINGTON — Frank Lloyd Wright purportedly said, “Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.” Today, however, Oregon is the state with the strangest state of mind, which has something to do with it being impeccably progressive: In the series “Portlandia,” the mention of artisanal lightbulbs...
OPINION: How African leaders betrayed MLK’s vision after his death

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 89 years old on this King Holiday. 2018 also marks the 50th anniversary of his assassination. The ideals he stood for far outlasted his life and in an age of growing intolerance, it’s important to examine how far society has gone to implement his vision of social justice, respect, and human dignity...
Opinion: ‘Fire and Fury’ is book we got, not one we needed

America desperately wanted this book. America desperately needed it, too. That’s why “Fire and Fury,” by journalist Michael Wolff, which purported to be a fly-on-the-wall, inside view of life in the Trump White House, shot to Number One on last week after Donald Trump’s lawyers tried to suppress it. It’s why...
More Stories