In an op-ed for The Los Angeles Times Gabrielle Union addressed the controversy surrounding forthcoming film Birth of a Nation, stating that “As important and ground breaking as this film is, I cannot take these allegations lightly.”
“Since Nate Parker’s story was revealed to me, I have found myself in a state of stomach churning confusion,” Union writes. “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.”
The talented actress, who is a rape survivor, doesn’t undermine the events that took place between Parker, fellow Birth of a Nation writer Jean Celestin and the victim (who committed suicide in 2012), using the incident as a means of educating the importance of affirmative consent.
She then goes on to explain why the movie is still important to see, but from a different perspective: that of a person that survived sexual assault.
“I took this part in this film to talk about sexual violence,” Union writes. “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.