07/13/2016 - Gabrielle Union - BODY at the ESPYS 2016 Pre-ESPY Awards Party - Arrivals - Avalon Hollywood Nightclub, 1735 Vine Street - Los Angeles, CA, USA - Keywords: Vertical, 2016 ESPYS, ESPN, Sports, Award Show, Portrait, Photography, Adult, Arts Culture and Entertainment, Person, People, Celebrity, Celebrities, Annual Event, Attending, Appearance, Red Carpet Event, Topix, Bestof, Los Angeles, California Orientation: Portrait Face Count: 1 - False - Photo Credit: Guillermo Proano / PR Photos - Contact (1-866-551-7827) - Portrait Face Count: 1

The controversy surrounding “The Birth of a Nation” star and director Nate Parker continues to escalate. Now, actress Gabrielle Union has written an op-ad piece for the Los Angeles Times about the subject.

 

Union who was raped in real life plays the role of an unnamed slave in the film who is sexually assaulted in the film. She’s also the first cast member to speak on the issue.

The actress says in her opinion piece that learning about Parker’s 2001 rape trial left her “in a state of stomach-churning confusion.”

“Twenty-four years ago I was raped at gunpoint in the cold, dark backroom of the Payless shoe store where I was then working. Two years ago I signed on to a brilliant script called “The Birth of a Nation,” to play a woman who was raped. One month ago I was sent a story about Nate Parker, the very talented writer, director and star of this film. Seventeen years ago Nate Parker was accused and acquitted of sexual assault. Four years ago the woman who accused him committed suicide.

Different roads circling one brutal, permeating stain on our society. A stain that is finely etched into my own history. Rape is a wound that throbs long after it heals. And for some of us the throbbing gets too loud. Post traumatic stress syndrome is very real and chips away at the soul and sanity of so many of us who have survived sexual violence.

Since Nate Parker’s story was revealed to me, I have found myself in a state of stomach-churning confusion. I took this role because I related to the experience. I also wanted to give a voice to my character, who remains silent throughout the film. In her silence, she represents countless black women who have been and continue to be violated. Women without a voice, without power. Women in general. But black women in particular. I knew I could walk out of our movie and speak to the audience about what it feels like to be a survivor.

My compassion for victims of sexual violence is something that I cannot control. It spills out of me like an instinct rather than a choice. It pushes me to speak when I want to run away from the platform. When I am scared. Confused. Ashamed. I remember this part of myself and must reach out to anyone who will listen — other survivors, or even potential perpetrators.”

As important and ground-breaking as this film is, I cannot take these allegations lightly. On that night, 17-odd years ago, did Nate have his date’s consent? It’s very possible he thought he did. Yet by his own admission he did not have verbal affirmation; and even if she never said “no,” silence certainly does not equal “yes.” Although it’s often difficult to read and understand body language, the fact that some individuals interpret the absence of a “no” as a “yes” is problematic at least, criminal at worst. That’s why education on this issue is so vital.

As a black woman raising brilliant, handsome, talented young black men, I am cognizant of my responsibility to them and their future. My husband and I stress the importance of their having to walk an even straighter line than their white counterparts. A lesson that is heartbreaking and infuriating, but mandatory in the world we live in. We have spent countless hours focused on manners, education, the perils of drugs. We teach them about stranger-danger and making good choices. But recently I’ve become aware that we must speak to our children about boundaries between the sexes. And what it means to not be a danger to someone else.

To that end, we are making an effort to teach our sons about affirmative consent. We explain that the onus is on them to explicitly ask if their partner consents. And we tell them that a shrug or a smile or a sigh won’t suffice. They have to hear “yes.”

Regardless of what I think may have happened that night 17 years ago, after reading all 700 pages of the trial transcript, I still don’t actually know. Nor does anyone who was not in that room. But I believe that the film is an opportunity to inform and educate so that these situations cease to occur on college campuses, in dorm rooms, in fraternities, in apartments or anywhere else young people get together to socialize.

I took this part in this film to talk about sexual violence. To talk about this stain that lives on in our psyches. I know these conversations are uncomfortable and difficult and painful. But they are necessary. Addressing misogyny, toxic masculinity, and rape culture is necessary. Addressing what should and should not be deemed consent is necessary.

Think of all the victims who, like my character, are silent. The girls sitting in their dorm rooms, scared to speak up. The wife who is abused by her husband. The woman attacked in an alley. The child molested. Countless souls broken from trans-violence attacks. It is for you that I am speaking. This is real. We are real. Sexual violence happens more often than anyone can imagine. And if the stories around this film do not prove and emphasize this, then I don’t know what does.

It is my hope that we can use this as an opportunity to look within. To open up the conversation. To reach out to organizations which are working hard to prevent these kinds of crimes. And to support its victims. To donate time or money. To play an active role in creating a ripple that will change the ingrained misogyny that permeates our culture. And to eventually wipe the stain clean.”

What do you think?

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(Photo Source: PR Photos)

 

9 thoughts on “Gabrielle Union Pens Opinion Piece On Co-Star Nate Parker’s Rape Allegations

  1. Sharon Greene on said:

    I’m still waiting for millions of white supremacy males to
    to be hearded to court for raping our mothers, sisters, our Africa for centuries of heartache.

    Praises to the Birth of a Nation film. Let’s talk about the real issues.
    We are finally talking.

  2. Everyone has an opinion just like everyone has a nose. However, opinions are not facts. He was found not guilty and his friend was found guilty. According to the jury who had the facts, said he is not guilty. I will go with that and watch this dynamic movie.

  3. ResponsibilityInControl on said:

    It is sad that you are found NOT guilty but the media and other people of our community will still portray that you are guilty. As a community we are being discredited on everything that we accomplish why do we have others in our same community that are doing the same to us. He has been found not guilty and there is not a shred of proof that she took her life because of this. Gabriel should find a different way to speak out about the situation vs an opinion attack on someone who was found not guilty. Every woman has a voice, so tired of hearing that women cant speak out! There is some one everywhere that is willing to help and defend you no matter what has happened.

  4. I agree that this is how Hollywood treats us but if he didn’t know that they were going to use this against him….what was he thinking???? Recklessness potentially damaged something great!
    Nevertheless, I will go and support this moving and I hope you all do too.

  5. When will we stop taking the bait from “those” who have been using this age old tactic to cause division and distractions among us??. This is a strategy that has been used on a recurring basis to discredit members of our community, and particularly our black men. It’s been their motive operandi for centuries. People wise up and take the blinders off. Damn….

  6. americanize on said:

    This has nothing to do with the alleged rape this is about sabatoging the movie,don,t be surprise if fox searchlight won,t release this movie.

    • Once I had found out that Fox Seachlight, I thought Dam I couldn’t believe they were the one’s who brought. And then I thought OKay what will they do to stop this film, because it’s red carpet. The BLAM this story hits. when we know that White blonde’s have sayed so many time that they were raped during sexual encounter when they’re the one that started. And this year I believe there’s been a boat load of male that’s getting out of prison for on many false confessions. This is the 2 edge sword of black America that’s destroyed so many on both side of that sword. And I would like to say that suicide is another one. But we can’t say that that’s the reason for her taken her on life. Unfortunately the media twisted so many stories that we demonize the innocent and glorify the guilty!

  7. According to the courts he is INNOCENT. Funny how people chastize him for “ALLEGATIONS” in which he was acquitted 17 years ago but go blind to our white counterparts who are CLEARLY GUILTY and are not charged……but that’s none of our business right?

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