Gabrielle Union Pens Nate Parker Essay

Gabrielle Union, one of the stars of Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation, and herself a victim of sexual violence, penned an op-ed in Friday’s Los Angeles Times describing her “stomach-churning confusion” after learning of past rape allegations leveled at her director back in 1999. In the film, Union plays the role of Esther, a silent character who is sexually assualted—a role which Union said she took “because I related to the experience. I also wanted to give a voice to my character, who remains silent throughout the film. In her silence, she represents countless black women who have been and continue to be violated. Women without a voice, without power. Women in general. But black women in particular.” Yet Union’s feelings about the symbolism of her character’s silence were muddied after learning about Parker’s rape case. Although Union describes him as “the very talented writer, director, and star of this film,” she also writes that “as important and ground-breaking as this film is, I cannot take these allegations lightly.” While stressing the importance of informed consent and education, Union describes her hopes that the film can be “an opportunity to inform and educate so that these situations cease to occur on college campuses, in dorm rooms, in fraternities, in apartments or anywhere else young people get together to socialize.”