"Nate Parker’s Past Surfaces in Prosecutors’ Investigation of Penn State"
This is the headline of an October 28 article in the New York Times. The picture at the top of the story is of filmmaker Nate Parker. This even though in the 7th paragraph the story clearly states:
"Mr. Parker has no direct connection to the criminal case against the university officials and he faces no legal problems."
Why then is his name and face so prominently displayed? Why is he even mentioned? What is behind the branding of Nate Parker, who was tried and acquitted of rape, as America's poster boy for rape culture and violence against women? Why is Parker the focus of media and the public's relentless attention and indignation? Rape, particularly the rape of black women, is an indelible stain on the fabric of America. Wouldn't our outrage, editorials and online activism be more effective directed toward supporting victims of rape, prosecuting rapists, education, and making rape unacceptable?
It's impossible to divorce the content of Nate Parker's movie, The Birth of a Nation, from the attacks on him. In the film, Nat Turner turns the tables and uses Christianity, the justification for slavery and it's endemic violence, as the inspiration for empowerment. He leads a slave rebellion that kills dozens of white slave owners. The re-litigation of the allegations against Parker and the rejection of his film plays neatly into the hands of those who seek to deny the resonance between Turner's radicalization and contemporary events. Whose interests does it serve to disappear a film that shows black people in armed rebellion against white supremacy?
Nate Parker was acquitted.Why should his reputation - and his film - be judged guilty 17 years later?
As a black woman, writer, activist and feminist, I cringed and spoke out years ago when many people condemned Alice Walker's novel, The Color Purple, as an attack on black men. This as they proudly declared they had not and would not read it. I cringe and speak out in the same spirit today when I hear condemnation of The Birth of a Nation by those who have not and will not see it because of Nate Parker's past. You don't have to like the book or the film. But to condemn either in ignorance is, as The Godfather put it, "Talkin' loud and sayin' nothing."
ENOUGH! This hunting down of Nate Parker as if he's a runaway slave must stop. I ain't no paddy roller! Pass it On.