What you are about to read about is (allegedly) not a defense of Nate Parker. Again, the essay you are about to read about is (allegedly) not a defense of Nate Parker. And yet, that is the man writer Feathers, a black woman, chose to use to exemplify “the dangers of social media when you’re black, productive and visible in general and how our communal general consensus is solely based upon likability.”
That’s a quote from Feathers’ article on Medium entitled, “Birth of A Nation’s Box Office Flop and The Unrepentant Pettiness of Black Feminists,” in which she singlehandedly blames black women for being “lip service specialists” who do everything in our power to destroy the most capable in our community and in turn complain that there’s no one left to carry the torch. Her essay begins:
It’s Sunday, October 9th, 2016 7:02 pm and I just want to start this by saying that at this point, I’m over social media, and I’m over the cyber mafia known as “Black Feminism”.
I‘m to the point where if I even see another black woman with “feminist” in her bio, I assume that she’s petty and that I should not associate with her publicly or privately.
If you haven’t seen/read the news already, Birth of A Nation has flopped in the box office and we have black feminism, which is just fancy cyber vernacular for “I hate black men because I always choose the wrong types of black men to entertain” and their male minions to thank.
Feathers goes on to chronologically detail the downfall of Nate Parker which she argues began, not when the accusations of rape against him resurfaced, but when black women realized he has a white wife.
If we are to celebrate any heterosexual black man’s success on social media he must be “CB4 blackity black” but not so much he’s considered Hotep, he must also be married to a black woman, even if you’ve posted on social media about “getting a Caucasian John when Jerome doesn’t work out to avoid stress, poverty and headache”, he must also be a simp, a male feminist, in proud support of black transgendered women, encourage prostitution, now formally known as sex work and move to the beat of the perverse Black Feminist drum.
After sharing a handful of tweets and one Bossip article alleging Parker had lost points once fans found out his wife of nine years wasn’t a sista, Feathers writes, “the cyber attack then moved up to the Black Feminist academia who write for mainstream media publications such as The Atlantic, Teen Vogue, Huff Post, TIME (who’ve they’ve begged for inclusion btw) and others and the next thing you know, the accusations of homophobia were birthed and information as well as legal documentation about his former rape case came up.” Adding more insult to injury is a sidenote that claims, “This is what bored black women on the internet who don’t like you do by the way.”
After laying out the detrimental effects of Ebony‘s interview with Parker and Gabrielle Union’s op-ed which “gave the BG Goodfellas/Black Feminist the remainder of the ammunition that they needed,” the writer reiterates her main point the black women are the worst and she’s still allegedly not defending Nate Parker.
Am I defending Nate Parker? Some will say yes, but I’d say no. What I’m trying to convey here is the dangers of social media when you’re black, productive and visible in general and how our communal general consensus is solely based upon likability.
The moment you’re disliked as a black person in the social media era, you’re as good as dead. We tend do everything in our power to tear down the most capable within our race and then we cry and protest for justice because after the best, creative and brightest have been condemned, mobbed against or assassinated we’re left with the weakest links, a bunch of people who may just have gotten a degree but their real life skills are usually limited to writing gossip articles, shade filled social media rants, holding aimless protests and shea butter lip balm making, these are not real world skills and none of these has ever or is going to push any culture forward.
I wouldn’t have wrote this article if I felt we like in place of Nate Parker, we’d have many others more able and other black directors, creatives and makers getting spotlight and recognition, that we supported beyond tweets, and articles. (Take Queen of Katwe’s flop for example despite all the social media “love” for Lupita Nyongo,or Solange’s so called #1 album that sold 42,000 copies first week, that was very masterful btw,while her sister Beyonce went platinum the weekend, the difference? having the “support” of the great hype vehicle aka the black community vs having the support of the actual money train aka white people.)
We rarely support anything beyond lip service and this is my #1 issue. I honestly feel as though the people who rallied to boycott this film would have bootlegged it anyways, Thus behooving me to ask, why the hell are we so mad to begin with? Pretentious outrage much?
Sidenote: We are lip service specialists. This is usually the main reason why we cannot progress forward without white people. Lot’s of talk but little to no massive action unless we can destroy someone or something.
Offensive generalizations about black feminists aside, I will give this author credit on one point, and one point alone. There is absolutely a responsibility that comes with being a powerful black female voice on the internet, be it through social media or digital publications. Any semblance of faux outrage that can lead to the downfall of another person, no matter race or gender, is wrong and irresponsible, and I get the point that black women have a greater torch to carry because there are so few of us who make it into spaces to make a difference. However, Nate Parker is not the bed post to which you want to hinge the argument that silence would have been better for the greater good of our people. And furthermore, it’s beyond insulting to accuse black women of going out of our way to destroy Parker simply because the man has a white wife. Since this writer already thinks all black women are petty, I’ll go ahead and indulge and say if that was the case there’d hardly be any black male entertainers in Hollywood. And that’s why I particularly take issue with Feather’s accusation that Parker’s “media assassination didn’t start with genuine concern for him being a rapist but black women’s typical and infallible jealousy” and that there’s hypocrisy in “shading the white woman he’s married to but caring so much about him raping one.”
There’s a world of difference in taking issue with a man fetishizing white women (if one is to assume that about Parker simply because of his wife’s race or even care to think as much) and giving him a pass for sexually assaulting one. In spite of a few tweets of shock demonstrating this so-called tardy outrage from women who found out Nate Parker’s wife is not black 3,285 days late and allegedly wanted to make his dollars come up short, by and large there were few, if any, black women who’d decided they wouldn’t see The Birth of a Nation simply because Mrs. Parker lacks melanin. If even in the throes of his resurfaced rape allegations black women can still understand the significance of the film that was made, and some still support it, it’s simply nonsensical to believe a white wife would stop us from seeing the movie — that’s if you aren’t looking at the situation from an “all black women are bitter and petty” lens.
Black women are double minorities constantly being told we have to choose between race and gender — often told to lean toward the former for the sake of our community when we’re rarely, if ever, extended that same courtesy. This is one of those times where black women simply said “hell naw.” But be clear, the stance isn’t about tearing down Nate Parker, it’s about taking a stand against rape culture. It’s unfortunate Parker’s life had to be the catalyst for this moment, but when the bulk of the blame for the fail of The Birth of a Nation is being placed on the backs of black women rather than Parker’s own actions, it shouldn’t be hard to understand why this is one of those times some of us decided not to take a back seat so a black man with no allegiance to us could drive us off a cliff with a parachute for one.
And while there have been thinkpieces galore on the subject, I’d argue no black woman, feminist or otherwise, went out of her way to encourage people not to see this movie. Some stated their choice, which obviously could influence others, but because of the race-gender conundrum the circumstances of Parker’s life and this movie present, many black women have found themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. There’s no joy in seeing the legacy of Nat Turner overshadowed by the legalities of Nate Parker’s past; nor is there anything relieving about the fact that Birth and Parker’s career have both flopped. Feather’s seems to picture black women rejoicing in their Sunday’s best at this man’s downfall when the reality is we’re saddened that Parker didn’t do better and continues not to do better by expressing outrage with the media rather than accepting responsibility for the actions that led to this outcome, no matter how long ago they occurred.
Feathers ends her essay of insults with a note to Black women:
“We are petty, we are insecure, we are destructive, we have more social and political power than our male counterparts than we’d like to acknowledge and we need to use it better.”
And while she advises, “If it doesn’t apply, let It fly,” that’s simply not something I can do because the truth is Feathers is the real hypocrite here and she is the one who has gone out of her way to tear down the most capable of our race: black feminists.