Nate Parker, writer of the film “Birth of a Nation”, was involved in a rape case when he was in college at Penn State and this news is making it incredibly easy for me to say “nope” to watching and or supporting the film all together. To make matters even more shady, Parker’s friend and the co-writer of the film, Jean Celestin was found guilty of rape in that same incident and only managed to walk away from that guilty verdict, because the victim refused to testify against him again after the case was granted an appeal.
The details? Both Nate Parker and Jean Celestin had sex with the same woman– who was allegedly passed out– on the same night, but somehow only Celestin was found guilty. Based on court documents, Parker first had sex with the young woman and then encouraged his friends to take turns with her. Some believe Parker was found not guilty because he had sex with the victim on a prior occasion.
Quite honestly, I was having a very hard time getting behind another slave movie before encountering the facts about Nate Parker’s history. In a recent piece, I wrote about being absolutely fed up with watching the oppression and even murder of Black people by police officers and my inability to be “entertained” by Black oppression at this difficult time. Still, I felt guilty about not feeling inclined to support the film because– ya know– Black folk should support Black folk.
Given the emergence of these details, that guilt has been abated.
Just last week, I wrote: Black Women Are Done Support Black Men Who Don’t Protect Us. The piece swallowed the hard-to-swallow reality that Black women should not support Black men who perpetrate abuses against or do not protect women. Sadly, Nate Parker now falls directly into the category of men who don’t protect women. Matter of fact, he is a man directly complicit in the abuse of a female body.
He was indeed found “not guilty” in that rape trial and thus, I will not predicate my argument on his “guilt”, but instead on his complicity. Jean Celestin was found guilty of rape. Jean Celestin only got off because the victim refused to testify again. And Nate Parker continued his association with and even decided to have Celestin co-write his upcoming film. Also, Nate Parker initiated that abuse when he, according to eyewitness testimony by his friend Tamerlane Kangas, motioned for his friends to enter the room where he was having sex with the young woman and join.
In an interview with Variety.com, Nate Parker responded to the rape charges and tried to paint them as an issue of the past:
“Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life,” Parker told Variety. “It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That’s that. Seventeen years later, I’m a filmmaker. I have a family. I have five beautiful daughters. I have a lovely wife. I get it. The reality is” — he took a long silence — “I can’t relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.”
However, the best man Nate Parker can be now, is still a questionable one. After all, he continues his association with Jean Celestin– who was found guilty of rape– to this very day. Yet, he expects that Black women will run out to support his movie with their hard earned dollars? The movie where Celestin will receive co-writing credits?
The victim, on the other hand, is now dead. She took her own life in 2012. While there is no evidence directly linking her suicide to this trial, her death certificate stated that she suffered from “major depressive disorder with psychotic features, PTSD due to physical and sexual abuse, polysubstance abuse….”
Black women: enough is enough. Black men must get the message that we are done supporting them if they do not protect women.
That may very well begin with retracting support for the movie “A Birth of a Nation”.
Editor’s note: Earlier statements made in this piece may have lead readers to infer the victim was Black. Sources have revealed the victim was White. The author still stands by her opinion that Black women should not support the film “Birth of a Nation”.