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Gabrielle Union is Not Staying Silent on Nate Parker Rape Allegations

The upcoming debut of The Birth of a Nation has been drumming up major attention but not just because it’s set to be a landmark movie in Black history. There’s been some serious buzz surrounding rape allegations from 1999 against the film’s director, producer, and lead actor, Nate Parker; and his co-star Gabrielle Union just made the buzz a whole lot louder.

Union is a known sexual assault survivor and advocate against sexual violence and on Friday she penned an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times candidly explaining that the news of the allegations left her “in a state of stomach-churning confusion.”

“As important and ground-breaking as this film is, I cannot take these allegations lightly,” she writes. Union goes on to further explain that her goal in taking on her role as an unnamed slave who is raped in The Birth of a Nation was to give a voice to “countless Black women who have been and continue to be violated.”

Even more importantly Union addresses what is often the most blurred line in some people’s understanding of rape culture; consent.

READ: Let’s Talk About Sexual Assault

“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,’” she writes.

Union didn’t approach this situation lightly pointing out that she read all 700 pages of the trial’s transcripts and could not definitively come to a conclusion on just what took place the night of the alleged rape.  But she was very clear that these allegations should not just be swept under the rug.

“I know these conversations are uncomfortable and difficult and painful,” she wrote. “But they are necessary. Addressing misogyny, toxic masculinity, and rape culture is necessary. Addressing what should and should not be deemed consent is necessary.”

Union feels the film is an opportunity to “inform and educate” in an effort to inimize occurrences of these situations in the spaces where “young people get together to socialize.”

“This is real. We are real. Sexual violence happens more often than anyone can imagine. And if the stories around this film do not prove and emphasize this, then I don’t know what does.”

Read her entire op-ed in the LA Times.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Ariel Leconte

Ariel Leconte

Ariel is the Associate Editor of Jawbreaker and creator of Revolutionary In Pink Pumps blog. She is equally obsessed with social justice, lipstick, culture, and red wine.