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The founder of Me Too thought her partner was being ‘sexist and homophobic’ by refusing a pink tote bag. Really, it was because of racism

Lily Wakefield June 1, 2020
Tarana Burke says biggest failure was not supporting her non-binary child

Activist Tarana Burke in Los Angeles , December 2019. (JC Olivera/Getty)

Me Too founder Tarana Burke thought her partner was being “sexist and homophobic” by refusing to carry a pink tote bag, but the real reason was systemic racism.

The civil rights activist took to Twitter to share an exchange she had with her partner which illustrates the way Black people are forced to consider police racism in even the smallest of decisions.

“A few months ago my dude was looking for a tote bag to carry some things to the post office,” Burke wrote. “I gave the biggest bag I had which happened to be bright pink and red.”

But her boyfriend, she said, insisted on having a different coloured bag.

“His insistence annoyed me and I started in on him fussing about it being sexist and homophobic, even to reject a bag based on thinking it’s too effeminate!”

He finally told her: “That’s not it… I’m a 6’3” Black man. If I’m walking down the street with a bright pink bag I could look like I stole it from a woman — which could attract police attention.

“I’m never trying to give these cops a reason to stop me. Ever.”

Tarana Burke says ‘stress and anxiety never relents’ for Black men in America.

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Tarana Burke said she had been thinking of the story a lot.

She wrote: “I know what’s it’s like worrying that my child, partner, brother or other loved ones will meet an Amy Cooper or worse… cops like George Floyd did.

“I know my fears as a Black woman moving through the world. Especially one who has been harassed and harmed by police.

“My deep sadness today is for Black men and all Black people who for whom this stress and anxiety never relents.”

She added that Black people have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and said it was “hard not to feel under siege one way or another”.

Burke wrote: “It’s all just too much. That’s all I’m saying I guess. I’m ranting my feelings right now because it’s all too much.”

More: America, Amy Cooper, black men, George Floyd, police brutality, racism, tarana burke

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