I know this might not be a popular viewpoint so let me state that this is simply my position. I do not condone, nor can I excuse the actions of Nate Parker when he was a younger man. As a survivor of sexual assault I understand first hand that it leaves scares that one must learn to live with. I can only hope that he has learned how devastating his behavior was, and become an advocate against sexual assault. I must say my concern is that personal issue with Parker threatens to take away from a film that we need to see. Too many of us have supported people that have done very terrible things in the name of being entertained. However, this isn’t just about entertainment but a story that needs to be told.
I personally find the timing of the Nate Parker story interesting. It came and caused some to say I won’t see the film because I refuse to support Parker. I truly believe this was the overall agenda of the media. Think about it… how many films do we have that depict the enslavement periods? We have quite a few, varying in accurately, but how many depict uprising? To many say we should move on from this period because it is in the past. We need to put slavery behind us we are told.
However, no one tells Holocaust survivors and descendants to move on. Yet the bottom line is there is plenty of accepted open dialog on the Holocaust. Germany has had to reckon with that history. Truth be told… the reason we can’t just move on is because America has never reckoned with the enslavement of black people. It has never been dealt with. Yes, we are aware it happened but the ramifications of it have never been dealt with.
Right now we have schools trying to rewrite history in an attempt to erase the evil of Americans past. Instead of facing where we have been as a nation… we are trying to wash it away. That is simply impossible. We need the arts (film, literature, art, music) to tell our story. It’s important that it be told all of the enslaved did not accept their condition lying down. It’s important for the very psyche of American born blacks to know yes we did fight back. The depiction of us in the world is not always accurate. It’s important that other people of color, as well as our African brothers and sisters, know our plight. It needs to be our story told by us.
This film is bigger than Nate Parker, and its need is great. I don’t condone his behavior as a man, yet I appreciate his courage to make such a film. As one who majored in English, and History, I will be going see this film at least twice. I will view it once for myself, and once to write a review. I support the telling of our stories. The voices of our ancestors have been silenced from us for far too long. We need to feel their strength and understand their sacrifice. I’m going see Birth of a Nation, and I hope many of us will be in the theatre to support the telling of our history… by us. Birth of a Nation releases in theaters nationwide October 7, 2016.
Article written by Christian Starr