I don’t think there was one black friend who WASN’T excited to see The Birth of A Nation, the mini-biopic about Nat Turner and his famous raid. Contrary to what your Fox News addicted uncle may prattle out of his mouth, it is NOT because black people hate white people and want to see them all die. It is because it is a slave narrative, which is definitely part of our collective history, but it is not a 2-hour snuff film or suffer porn that way most antebellum period pieces that focus on African Americans is. Trust me, I loved Roots and new Roots and 12 Years a Slave. They are stories that need to be told, I suppose in Roots case, twice. It IS our history, and it is important that it doesn’t get footnoted away for the Texas School Board to euphamize as “the time of involuntary immigration”, or some infuriatingly inane shit like that.
Black stories during slave times get emotionally tiring, though. The pride that some white people feel watching a period piece about troops marching into Berlin to punch SS elite in their crooked crossed dicks is directly proportional to the moroseness I feel when seeing slaves being the subjects of ethnic snuff films under an Alabama sun. That is because these things happened, hyperbole set aside, and they happened to people who were my ancestors. Part of my family suffered these indignities, and when you study the history of slavery, you find out that the worst of what was depicted on the screen is the PG version, despite what people might whitesplain to you. In The Birth of a Nation, we would finally get to see a story where there is a person who could have been my ancestor, who stopped taking the shit dished to him, who fought for his autonomy. His uprising was brutal. He took no prisoners, and he eventually got caught and was executed, but this was not a story about his torture and death. Finally.
Now, imagine my surprise when, in the midst of all of the Olympic coverage, I see posts popping up either demonizing or defending Nate Parker, the writer/director of The Birth of a Nation. Demonizing and defending for what? Apparently, 17 years ago when he was in college, he was accused of sexual assault. He was exonerated in court, but his roommate was sentenced to 6 months for his point, and even his record was expunged. We can never know for sure, but looking at the woman’s complaint against the school, it looks like there’s a lot to be asked about his version of events. The obligatory slut shaming and bullying of the victim of the victim doesn’t help things either. We’ll never be able to ask her side of the the story now, because she committed suicide in 2012. I’m not sure how many people who “just lied for attention” would go to that length for attention. Remember Lizzy Seeberg?
Parker said he’s devastated over this news, but this was after an interview where he used one of his daughters as a human shield against tough questions. He also brought up that he has a wife and daughters, so he’s better now! That is a total Trump move though: Do something terrible to women, and then claim you adore them and parade a few around. I just hope Parker doesn’t want to have sex with his daughter, too.
Of course, there is the thought that these rape allegations are all a plot by The Man™ to take down another successful black man, as is The Man’s™ evil plot: option a brother’s hard work for the largest multi-million dollar deal in the history of a film festival, rave about him for months, and then throw him under the bus mere months before his film is supposed to premiere worldwide. The money lost making all that happen is TOTALLY worth ruining one black man’s life. Besides, it is not like the entire story was concocted. Events definitely happened at Penn State involving Nate Parker.
As stated, there is no way to know what truly happened, and I am dismayed that I found out about this since I was actually excited about seeing his film. I got a little bit less dismayed when I found out another few things he said and did in that last few years. Back in 2014, he declared that he would never play a gay character. His reason? He wants to “preserve the black man”. He also went in on Hollywood for “effeminizing” black men”, in an effort to diminish our race. If that isn’t the most hotep shit I’ve heard this week...The idea that being gay makes one less than a man is a worldwide false trope, but in the Hotep Bible, it’s one of their prime tenets. Anything “feminine” is wrong, including women, but they’ll still pretend that their misogyny is reverence. A “feminine” man, however, is just a no-no. Regardless, his premise is bullshit. Gay men have been more than the stereotype that Hollywood likes to depict, and playing a gay role that has depth doesn’t make one less than a man. The irony is that in his determination to feed into the homophobia to fight white supremacy, he is perpetuating a European import to Africa and the Americas. Also, how exactly is he “preserving the black man” when he has a white wife? Hypocrisy is a major key to hotepping as well.
Whether Nate Parker did commit an act of sexual violence or not will be a major question that only now he can answer. Given his statements two years ago, though, I can’t say I’m entirely in his camp. Hoteps, especially ones who claim they are trying to “preserve their race”, are usually as misogynistic as they are homophobic. I am not sure who defined it best, but it is said that homophobia is the fear that another man will treat you the way you treat women. If he did it, he may not even consider what he did as rape, as many rapists think they are entitled to the women they assault, so it COULDN’T be rape. The fact that he bullied the victim does not help his case one bit. I’m not sure if I’m going to see The Birth of a Nation yet. Though initially I would say that I wouldn’t, we should remember that art and the artists may be two different things. I was hung up about A Different World and The Cosby Show for a while, but I remember my beef is not with the shows, but one actor/producer on it. What he produced were positive depictions of black families and young people. What he “allegedly” did when the cameras weren’t rolling is reprehensible, and whatever legal punishment he may get will not erase his “alleged” crimes.
Given that Nate Parker never admitted or apologized for even the bullying that he administered on this woman who took her life, the very least he could do is to give a portion of the profits of his film to an assault counseling center. That is if he is truly repentant. Something definitely happened that puts his integrity into question. One thing is for sure: his case is the first I have seen where a black dude was able to white privilege his way out of it.