The film’s writer, director and star is Nate Parker, who plays Turner. Parker has recently been embroiled in controversy regarding a 1999 sexual assault case which took place while he was a 19-year-old college student at Pennsylvania State University. Parker was charged and acquitted.
Because the case and its court documents resurfaced this summer, many were left questioning whether they wanted to support The Birth of a Nation, even though they don’t agree with Parker’s past but believe Turner’s story needs to be told.
In an interview with xoNecole, Union, who is a rape survivor, addressed her feelings about Parker’s sexual assault case, whether people should still see the film and wanting to have a conversation with Amy Schumer and Kate Upton on White privilege.
“Some people have said, ‘If you’re a feminist, you should boycott the film,'” said Union. “And I was like, ‘But wait, my role in the film and the reason I signed on was to talk about sexual violence.’ So it feels ass backwards to shirk that responsibility when the controversy swirling around our film is around sexual violence, so who better to speak on it than me? And if I take myself out of the conversation because it’s uncomfortable, and because I’m worried about my brand, then my brand ain’t shit if I don’t stand up for what I’ve always stood up for since I became a rape survivor.”
There’s a scene in The Birth of a Nation where Union’s character is raped.
Recently, Schumer and Upton were at the center of some polarizing comments regarding Black bodies and NFL players protesting the national anthem.
“Maybe I can help to explain the oppressive systems that have benefited and allowed them [Schumer and Upton] to say these careless, insensitive, and offensive things. Those conversations are awkward as f*ck and they get heated. Similar to watching people have conversations about consent.”
We hope Union, Schumer and Upton get a chance to speak about these issues. We also hope when it comes to watching The Birth of a Nation, people make the decision their comfortable they are comfortable with.
Photo Credit: V Magazine