Birth of a Nation director Nate Parker has been at the center of immense controversy ever since the details of his 1999 rape case re-entered the public consciousness. Though Parker was acquitted at trial, the accuser committed suicide in 2012, which prompted a lengthy Facebook post from Parker.
The conversation about whether it’s appropriate to support this film—which has been considered an Oscar frontrunner since it sold for a record-breaking $17.5 million at Sundance—has been intense in recent weeks. One of the film’s stars, Gabrielle Union, has spoken up, penning an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times.
In the op-ed, Union describes surviving her own sexual assault twenty-four years ago, and directly addresses the allegations surrounding her director.
“As important and ground-breaking as this film is, I cannot take these allegations lightly. On that night, 17-odd years ago, did Nate have his date’s consent? It’s very possible he thought he did. Yet by his own admission he did not have verbal affirmation; and even if she never said “no,” silence certainly does not equal “yes.” Although it’s often difficult to read and understand body language, the fact that some individuals interpret the absence of a “no” as a “yes” is problematic at least, criminal at worst. That’s why education on this issue is so vital.”
Read Gabrielle Union’s brave, emotional essay in full here.