Nate Parker, Blind Support and How His Scandal Hurts Black America

The buzz about The Birth of a Nation, the movie about Nat Turner’s slave rebellion and actor Nate Parker’s project has been active for almost a year since news first broke out about it. People have anticipated a film about a revolt against slavery that was named after another much earlier film that depicted the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. The first movie was released in 1915 was popular among white movie goers showcasing racist stereotypes of African Americans. Despite that, it is still considered an important piece of film history to this day.

But just like the original film, it’s modern incarnation is not without controversy, especially surrounding the producer. Several weeks before its release, past sexual assault allegations have surfaced. Parker, along with his friend and co-author Jean McGianni Celestin while students at Penn State, went to trial for rape accusations, but was ultimately acquitted two years later. Sadly, in 2012 Parker’s accuser committed suicide. And despite news of her death reached Parker, he generally doesn’t seem fazed enough to apologize.

The resurfacing of Parker’s rape accusations has become a side-story whenever Birth of a Nation is discussed, usually praised. Movie fans and critics alike contend that it’s a must see film. For Black Americans, it’s a changing of the norm. There are no white saviors to step in and save black folks and even though it’s another film based on slavery, the slaves rise up against oppression. Why not see it?

Even though Parker’s moral character has come into questioning since news surfaced about his allegations from the past and his current reactions toward them, not all black people are on board with the movie hype. Some expressed anger towards his indifference and victimhood, disappointed that one of their brightest stars is sounding more and more like an unfeeling douche bag unwilling to do anything to tackle the issue responsibly.

But like anyone else, there are black people who blindly support such people, because their art and talents are more prominent than their misdeeds and crimes. Men like Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Mel Gibson, Robert Downy, Jr., Charlie Sheen, former-President Bill Clinton and Presidential-hopeful Donald Trump are still beloved, adored and praised among many people. Their great accomplishments have largely overshadowed their most heinous sins.

Black people are like anyone else. Some of us still show support for icons through thick and thin. We still love Bill Cosby, Mike Tyson, Afrikaa Bambataa, R. Kelly, Chris Brown and even O.J. Simpson. (Well, maybe not quite O.J. Simpson.) Part of that is due to the history, past and contemporary, of racial hoaxes which resulted in the lynching of scores of black men in the South. It’s made many of us suspicious of accusations of violence against black men, especially if the victim and accuser is white. Nate Parker’s victim was reportedly a white female. News about his rape accusation surfaced weeks before the release of the movie. So, many black folks theorize a racist conspiracy against a famous black man who produced an anti-slavery film to bring him down.

But there’s another depressing side to this. Nate Parker was a rising icon among the black community. We saw him an innovator or revolutionary of sorts. Black people see the successes and failures of individual black people as successes and failures of the entire race. When some of us hear of Parker’s rape accusation, we felt disappointed. And his attitude towards it when being interviewed is rubbing salt into the wound. Watching a famous black leader of any kind fall slowly but surely is upsetting and even embarrassing. We fought so hard to smash racial stereotypes about us only to have someone, a famous someone, become that stereotype. And we fear that that individual will make things hard for the rest of us.

Nate Parker is becoming the stereotype we want to erase. His accusation of raping a white woman is bad enough. His responses to it are even worse. Will it be enough to affect the film’s status as a powerhouse or his reputation as a budding producer? Probably. Nevertheless, the culture of toxic masculinity must be addressed. If not, men will continue to get away with murder – in some cases literally – and more women will suffer for the sake of male power.

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14 thoughts on “Nate Parker, Blind Support and How His Scandal Hurts Black America

  1. Thought-provoking essay, Brothawolf. Here is Harvey’s take on this:

    Warning — these videos contain A LOT of profanity. Enjoy! 😀

  2. I’m glad you chose to tackle this one. I will bootleg it but will not pay to see it. I honestly believe he raped that female and that he has since been playing on the black male victims for the black community. As black people we can not and should not support this type of behavior, but many will.

    As someone who studies clinical psychology, very few know the torment of the mind. This female likely needed it to stop as the thought never went away. Having your tormentor get away and society see them as a victim must have been even more perplexing.

      1. @Shirinalr: It amazes me the black women who support him I am not surprised at the men that support him.

  3. I believe that the Nat Turner story needs to be heard, but I’m not supporting Nate Parker, not because of his alleged indiscretion, but due to failure to choose a black mate. Blacks don’t understand how wealth transfer and our mating and procreation decisions go hand-in-hand.

  4. I have mixed feelings about Nate Parker,but not in the way people might think.

    When it comes to rape,it’s a crime that should not never be taken as a joke.Nate..to my knowledge.has kids and a wife.For him to be dismissive about it is sad and scary.Will he react this way if one of kids or his wife get done the same way? It makes me wonder because of the indifference he displays to his victim.Though Im not a person who quickly advocates divorce, if I were his wife,I would be concerned about his frame of thinking.

    Though Nate Parker has become a succubus to me and make me not want to see his movie,I wouldn’t want for it to be so distractive that we forget wanting to learn about Nat Turner or with civil rights/ human rights protestors are doing. If there is another producer that can recreate this movie,I would see it. I would love to see TBOAN but I wouldn’t want to give him my money.

    Meanwhile, I pray to god that I can go to the new museum in Washington D.C. and read about Nat Turner.

  5. Reading how BOAN tanked at the box office it’s Nate Parker’s fault his arrogance did him in it turned people off plus I have slavery movie fatigue and I am sick of reading about him and this movie.

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