Tarana Burke’s "Unbound"
“I am her
She is me
And we are free”
Tarana Burke’s “Unbound, My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement” is absolutely one of those stories that can and will and already has changed the world!
This beautiful read brought us back, with its exquisite and emotionally expressive writing to our NYC childhood in the ’80s and our very own “Me Too” issues.
Tarana outlines the evolution of her process from that “little girl in the stairwell, that ugly girl in the drugstore, used-up dishrag - am also the girl who read voraciously,” into “the girl who turned from fighting other girls, to fighting for freedom, the girl who became a woman and claimed her voice as a leader. I am the woman, who despite all odds and in the face of trauma, kept traveling until she found her healing and her worth.”
These simple and succinct words encapsulate a mesmerizing story for the reader that covers years of ups and downs, her writing mirroring the grit of events and situations in the life of an innocent little girl from the Bronx. It only gets deeper and more gripping as we follow the angry teenager who becomes a young single mother in Selma, Alabama. This book delivers you to that place in her life, where she became the freedom fighter for all women that she is today. As you will read in the book, this was not an easy process and was full of pain and hurt but also celebration and aha moments, where she realized her strength and worth. Funneling all of that experience into her advocacy for young girls and women is the foundation of the #METOO movement. Her storytelling brings the reader right into her life with each of her stories, allowing us to transcend what she was feeling at the time of each event with immersive clarity and conviction.
Tarana speaks of her many inspirations in the book, one being Maya Angelou, citing the time “we were assigned to read and interpret her landmark poem, ‘Phenomenal Woman’ in my honors English class.” At first, the students in her class took turns reading the poem and though she loved it at first listen, it wasn’t until their teacher Mr. Pete turned on a video of Dr. Angelou reciting the poem, that she felt the full weight of her words. “Then it hit me.” As Tarana goes on to say “she was using nothing but words to command a presence,” and “standing up to defend her right to be ‘phenomenal,’ intellectually, I didn’t understand what that meant and how it was even possible emotionally. While I was finding newfound comfort in anger, she was smiling. While I was lashing out, she was laughing and reciting beautiful poetry. Why wasn’t she mad? Why wasn’t she cursing and spitting at white folks and everyone else? I was suddenly staring my duality in the face.”
If you want to feel the full effect, watch a video of Dr. Angelou reciting the poem here - it’s an incredibly inspirational watch - https://youtu.be/VeFfhH83_RE
With her words, Maya Angelou gave Tarana “a model for how to step out into the world and make them believe it. Before, I had thought she was giving me a road map for how to go along to get along or fake it till you make it. I was convinced that she lived a dual life like my own. But when she opened her mouth, none of that proved to be true. Listening to her voice, watching her lips perfectly articulate each word and every syllable of that poem, I knew she meant every word.
I believed her”
This led Tarana to become curious and ask herself “Where had her shame gone? How had it not seeped into her cells, and if it had, how did she get it out? And if all of it - the pain, shame, and fear - were still there, where did she find space for this thing I saw in her face and heard in her voice? What was this softness? Where did the joy come from? I went home that night and wondered in my journal who Dr. Maya Angelou was - for real - and how I could have gotten her so wrong.
“More than anything, I contemplated the question that eventually became central to my healing” If what I saw was real, how could a body that holds that kind of pain also hold joy?”
We at GrooveMD thank Tarana Burke for her uncloaked vulnerability and strength in telling her story and we aim to do this for all the women in medicine. To help us and them hold the pain, but also the joy of what we as women go through and deal with from the very beginning with our choice to go into medicine through the brutal training to every day of what it means to be a woman in medicine and ultimately to heal what ails us in medicine at this time. #Thereisnotabettertime #GrooveMD
To learn more and hear more about Tarana Burke (we can’t get enough), here are a few resources to check out:
Tarana speaking on Glennon Doyle podcast “We Can Do Hard Things”
And so much more