‘Silence Breakers’ of Color Among Those Named Time ‘Person of the Year’

By Sameer Rao Dec 06, 2017

Time Magazine recognizes the “Silence Breakers”—the people whose disclosures about experiencing sexual violence sparked ongoing action against alleged perpetrators the world over—as its 91st “Person of the Year.” The publication profiles #MeToo creator Tarana Burke and dozens of survivors, including many women of color, who brought her message into the mainstream in a cover story that debuted online today (December 6).

From Burke’s statement regarding Time’s decision:

Today’s announcement should be an opportunity to ask ourselves: are we really committed to the hard work of ending sexual violence?

What about young people having to break bread with their abuser at a family gathering year after year, in silence and solitude?

What about women of color and transgender people, who struggle to be believed by friends, families, and those in power?

What about those regularly assaulted by officers of the law, on our streets and in our jails—do they get to say #MeToo as well? Will we listen when they do?

We need a complete cultural transformation if we are to eradicate sexual assault in our lifetimes. It means we must build our families differently, engage our communities and confront some of our long-held assumptions about ourselves. Today’s announcement is an opportunity for all of us to take a hard look in the mirror and answer the question:

When you hear #MeToo, will you stand up to say #NoMore?

Let’s get to work.

Time also featured several working-class women of color on its list of “Silence Breakers.” The group includes hospitality workers Juana Melara and Sandra Pezqueda, as well as several women involved in a lawsuit against the Plaza Hotel in New York—all of whom linked the pervasive sexual violence in their industry to labor abuse against workers who lack protection.

The publication also profiled a few male accusers, including actor Terry Crews, who just filed suit against Hollywood agent Adam Venit for sexual assault. 

California State lobbyist Adama Iwu and "Isabel Pascual"—a pseudonym for a Mexican immigrant and agricultural worker in California—posed for Time’s cover photo. Both women took action against overlooked sexual assault and harassment in their respective fields: