On the eve of Time magazine’s announcement that its Person of the Year would be “the silence breakers”—the victims of sexual harassment who have come forward to tell their stories—an interview with actress and sexual assault survivor Gabrielle Union revealed her thoughts on the #MeToo movement and how the voices of women of color have not been heard loudly enough within that movement.
Union spoke with the New York Times at length about her new memoir, We’re Going to Need More Wine, and the emotional monthlong tour she recently returned from, during which many women shared their abuse stories with her.
Union told the Times that her tour turned into a sort of “pop-up safe space” where many women shared their pain with her. She talked about the horrifying abuse that some of her readers told her about—so horrifying that if it were in a movie, it would seem unrealistic.
Some of the stories were so bad that Union found herself crying in her hotel room every night—“crying like I’m at a funeral,” she said.
In her book, Union discusses her own rape at gunpoint when she was 19. The man who raped her was caught and took a plea deal to serve 33 years in prison. Union said that she does not know whether the man is still in jail, and she does not want to know.
Union was talking about her #MeToo moment long before it became a trending topic in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations. She believes that in this recent movement, some voices have been heard louder than others.
“I think the floodgates have opened for white women,” she told the Times. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence whose pain has been taken seriously. Whose pain we have showed historically and continued to show. Whose pain is tolerable and whose pain is intolerable. And whose pain needs to be addressed now.
Of some of the women who spoke out about Weinstein early on, she said, “If those people hadn’t been Hollywood royalty, if they hadn’t been approachable, if they hadn’t been people who have had access to parts and roles and true inclusion in Hollywood, would we have believed?”