Birth of a New Nation
Birth of Nation. A much needed film that depicts the heroism of Nat Turner and how his 48 hour rebellion came to be. By now, you've either seen or boycotted the film since it's release on October 7th. The reason you've decided not to support the film is because mainstream media has created a firestorm that has labeled the movie's creator and star, Nate Parker, a rapist. This isn't Nate's first film or Hollywood project, yet it IS the first time we've been publicly made aware of the rape allegations that were brought against him while he was a student at Penn State in 1999. Why are these allegations suddenly so important, seventeen years later? Well, I have my own theories about that. Let's get into them now, shall we?
Since 2004, Parker has appeared in 20 films, 3 television shows, and has won 7 of the 14 awards he's been nominated for thus far. The Great Debaters, The Secret Life of Bees, Red Tails, Beyond the Lights. These were all pretty big movies that Parker had significant roles in. Not once did I hear any mention of rape allegations pre- or post-release of these films. Yet, when he decides to create and release a powerful film about a slave revolt led by a significant figure in African American history (that won TWO awards at this years Sundance Film Festival), a seventeen year old rape accusation is suddenly pushed to the forefront. Coincidence? I think not.
Now, let me be clear, I am not trying to downplay the severity of sexual assault. I am not caping for Nate but I want people to be clear about the facts before riding the boycott bandwagon. I've read the transcripts from the trial, I've read the articles that condemn Nate's behavior, and I've also read & watched his interviews in response to it all. In short, I chose to do my own research before labeling this man a rapist just because everyone else was doing it and in my honest opinion, I don't consider him a rapist. Could and should he have handled the situation better? ABSOLUTELY! However, rape is a very strong word and we must be careful how we use words to label people and their actions.
Upon doing the research and subsequently watching the movie, the only conclusion I could come to about what I consider to be fake outrage was that America simply wanted this movie to go away. In the midst of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the numerous instances of police brutality that our black men (and women) are subjected to, a movie about a slave rebellion just isn't the type of message the media wants to convey. Why? Perhaps they're scared it would give rise to the birth of a NEW nation. A nation of individuals that are sick and tired of the status quo. A nation of individuals that will no longer sit idly by and be fed false promises of equality. A nation of individuals who are willing to fight for the right to be seen and respected as human beings in this country.
Nate Parker did an interview with the Breakfast Club upon release of the film and one thing he said that stuck with me was that when he was making the film, other black directors told him that he should put some "good white people" in the film so that America will be comfortable with the story he was telling. I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that we needed to make people comfortable when telling our truth. The funny thing about truth is that sometimes THE TRUTH HURTS. Black people are always told to do and say things to make other people comfortable but no one else is ever told to do and say things that make us comfortable. I applaud Nate for being courageous enough to tell this story without having to compromise the integrity of who Nat Turner was in order to make people comfortable.
We're always screaming "we need more black movies, more black actors and directors, more projects that represent us and tell our stories" and as soon as a black man does it, we tear him down. We hate when the news outlets bring up the past of black men slain by police; we're constantly saying "it doesn't matter what he did in the past, it matters how he's living his life now and he didn't deserve to be treated this way", so doesn't this same argument apply to Nate Parker or am I missing the fine print somewhere?
-Tanneka b/k/a DopeChickNeeks