Tarana didn’t always have the courage to say "me too." As a child, she reeled from her sexual assault, believing she was responsible. Unable to confess what she thought of as her own sins for fear of shattering her family, her soul split in two. One side was the bright, intellectually curious third generation Bronxite steeped in Black literature and power, and the other was the bad, shame ridden girl who thought of herself as a vile rule breaker, not as a victim. She tucked one away, hidden behind a wall of pain and anger, which seemed to work...until it didn’t.
Tarana fought to reunite her fractured self, through organizing, pursuing justice, and finding community. In her debut memoir she shares her extensive work supporting and empowering Black and brown girls, and the devastating realization that to truly help these girls she needed to help that scared, ashamed child still in her soul. She needed to stop running and confront what had happened to her, for Heaven and Diamond and the countless other young Black women for whom she cared. They gave her the courage to embrace her power. A power which in turn she shared with the entire world. Through these young Black and brown women, Tarana found that we can only offer empathy to others if we first offer it to ourselves.
Unbound is the story of an inimitable woman’s inner strength and perseverance, all in pursuit of bringing healing to her community and the world around her, but it is also a story of possibility, of empathy, of power, and of the leader we all have inside ourselves. In sharing her path toward healing and saying "me too," Tarana reaches out a hand to help us all on our own journeys.
First I want to note I enjoyed this as an audio book and really loved listening to Burke read. There is an energy when the author is sharing a story as powerful of this that is very special. Her passion came through. However, I may now try to find a way to buy a signed print copy as the book is one I'd love to have in my library.
The book opens at the moment Burke becomes aware that ME TOO, a phrase she coined years before and was central to her work, had suddenly become a viral hash tag used by others. The phrase ME TOO actually began with author in a quiet moment. To help us understand the passion that drives her, the author shares her life from childhood, to teen years, to becoming an adult, mother and community activist. She had been a victim of sexual abuse several times, the first at a very young age, something that affected her sense of worth.
Through the years she kept those experiences buried deep inside. Shame definitely played the largest role, but also societal pressures and a desire to protect others were also a part. When she finally let those feeling out, the impact was deeply physical as well as emotional. As she healed, she also committed to finding a way to guide and empower POC, especially young girls and teens, to take ownership of their bodies and let go of any feelings of guilt.
I highly recommend reading Unbound no matter your race, gender or whether you've been a victim of sexual violence. The story is honest, raw and sometimes difficult to hear, but full of truths that need to be brought into the light of day.
Meet the Author -
Tarana's passion for community organizing began in the late 1980s, when as a young girl she joined a youth development organization called 21st Century. Since then she has launched initiatives around issues of racial discrimination, housing inequality, and economic justice. Her work has connected a vast network of influential people, including much of Hollywood, the founder of the Women's March Tamika Mallory, leading intellectuals and authors like Ishmael Beah and Gloria Steinem.
She was 2017 TIME Person of the Year and the winner of the 2019 Sydney Peace Prize, and has been the recipient of countless other accolades. She is the co-editor with Brené Brown of the instant New York Times bestseller You Are Your Best Thing.
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