We will never not stan for Tarana Burke because of the way she so unapologetically and steadfastly stands for us. Watching her profile rise in recent months is like watching the sun rise on a precious and fertile piece of earth that has been ignored far too long.
And since Time magazine was deeply egregious in naming the movement Burke founded its 2017 Person of the Year but not placing the founder herself upon its accompanying cover, we take some cold comfort in seeing her portrait finally land on one of the six covers of its 100 Most Influential People issue.
Labeled an “Icon” and joining a list that includes Kehinde Wiley, Maxine Waters, Jesmyn Ward, Trevor Noah, Issa Rae, Ryan Coogler, Lena Waithe, Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Durant, Chadwick Boseman, Janet Mock, Cardi B, Virgil Abloh, Sterling K. Brown, Rihanna and fellow cover star Tiffany Haddish, Burke’s penetrating gaze reminds us that not all icons and influencers are celebrity byproducts. While Hollywood may have brought much-needed attention to the #MeToo movement, Burke’s advocacy has a long history and reach and promises to remain more than a trending topic.
In Burke’s profile, actress and fellow activist Gabrielle Union zeros in on exactly what makes Burke so special. While she has never sought the spotlight, she continues to use it to fight for all of us. Union writes:
You want a leader who truly believes in inclusivity. For Tarana, it’s not about personal gain or attention but doing the work in a way that makes people feel like they can join in.
When you’ve been sidelined for so long, it’s exhilarating to know that such a powerful voice is finally breaking through. Tarana will continue to do this work, but the stage will be bigger and the microphone turned all the way up. She will inspire legislation and new crops of voters. She will sway old voters. She will open eyes. She’s not even going to bring more seats to the table—she’s going to turn the table over and build a new one.