November 10, 2021 8:20:30 am
When Hollywood actor Viola Davis delivered a speech at Variety’s Power of Women luncheon in New York City in 2018, it was characteristic of her wit, charm and articulateness. The Emmy award winning star has long been a champion of gender and human rights, and has been an unequivocal spokesperson for women of colour and survivors of sexual assault across the world.
In this inspiring speech, the How To Get Away With Murder actor makes pertinent points surrounding rape culture, as she presents an award to the founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke.
“I’m saying this in a room full of women: If you can imagine — if you can wrap your mind around it —that there is a rung lower that people see than being a woman,” Davis says. “And it’s being a woman of colour.”
Davis elaborates saying that a “Black woman is 66 per cent more likely to be assaulted again if she is raped before the age of 18″, and that of the female victims of sex trafficking, “77 per cent of them are women of colour”.
“Tarana has owned her story, and she’s allowing these young girls to own their story. Despite the trauma, despite the heartache, despite the fact that something was taken from them that day, that moment — that they could still lead a life of value. And my God, if that is not a golden lasso and a cape, I don’t know what is,” Davis says.
The actor praises Burke as a hero and beacon of hope for giving a voice to a community of sexual assault victims of colour who may suffer from mental health concerns such as post traumatic stress disorder, dissociative disorder, flashbacks, eating disorders, suicide, and depression, but don’t ask for help.
In 2006, Burke founded the MeToo movement and began using the phrase “Me Too” to raise awareness. The phrase developed into a broader movement following the 2017 use of #MeToo following the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations. The Me Too movement served as a catalyst to show survivors of sexual abuse that they are not alone, and that the option of help and rehabilitation exists. It also helped to improve awareness about sexual violence, showing just how widespread sexual harassment and assault are.
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