… that woman, he is always behind the eight ball, constantly having to respond to righteous outrage. If Nate Parker gave a damn, he would lead talks on consent and do work with women’s groups focused on work around rape victims, he would openly address the rape culture which makes his fronting of this work even possible to be a thing, he would address the curious choice in making the rape of Nat Turner’s wife the plot point around which to assemble Turner’s revolution, he would situate himself as apologetic and honestly concerned. Nate Parker doesn’t give a damn, this is further solidified in my mind by hiring Jean Celestin, his…
Parker working in these areas would be absolute disasters, at this point. This cannot be the answer for him. Honestly, I don’t think there is one. Parker represents the curious case of how race and privilege intersect in America in curious ways and bring about the most bizarre and unexpected results like a not guilty OJ Simpson verdict.
Parker is black and male, and his victim white a female…that brings about this whole host of pre and post to-kill-a-mocking-bird racial issues.
Just because we live in a country that has exploited this whole: black-man-rapes-white woman-and-should-die narrative relentlessly, there will always be this portion of the population that will never believe rape really happened between Parker and his victim.
And I’m not saying that I am one of those people, I just know they exist and understand the skepticism.
Because even if the Turner rape really did happen (and I believe it is highly probable that it did), because that lie has been told too many times, causing too many unjustified deaths of innocent black men there will always be a certain amount of disbelief. Call it the rape, wolf-calling syndrome. Whenever rape allegations surface, there will always be a good amount of healthy skepticism on the part of many black Americans. It has happened with Nate Turner, and also Bill Cosby, and honestly, given America’s racial history can anyone really question that skepticism?
And this is not to say, I don’t believe that Nate Turner or Bill Cosby were or could be rapists. I honestly do not know, about Turner. I don’t really know that story. (As for Cosby, as far as I know, the evidence is pretty overwhelming that he was some perverse serial rapists…was not expecting that story to come out. You just never know.)
I just know that, I was probably going to watch the Birth of a Nation, then the next thing I know, before this extraordinarily confrontational film about slavery can even hit the theaters, it is entangled in all these horrifically ugly allegations of rape.
I am sure, given that Hollywood is what it is, almost every film is entangled in horrific rape allegations….most just don’t come to light.
So why this film? Why this director? Why, especially, when the topic of the film happens to be revealing information that has been suppressed, for forever?
We never talk about the horrors of institutionalized rape that white men inflicted on black women via slavery. We never really talk about it as a nation. I remember, in this class called Constitutional History, my professor directed us all to, this horrorific case, Mid 1800s, I believe it was Cecilia v. The state of Missouri, which basically encoded the institutional rape of slaves into law. According to the case, Cecilia a slave was brutally raped by her owner or some other influential white man, the court held, yeah that’s perfectly legal, because she’s property.
My professor provided an actual copy of the case. Handed it out via xerox. Since that time, I have attempted to find that case in the records, to re-read it and review it, but I simply cannot find it, anywhere.
Was that case a fiction? Did the professor make this case up to prove a point, and this being the days before the internet had really jumped off, he was able to get away with it. (He had this mini-celebrity like status, based on hi speak truth to power antics that involved talking about these sorts of things. He was a white guy of course. Pretty radical, out there talk for a history professor.)
Was it a hoax or is this really a case in history that has been really well hidden because the country is ashamed of it’s own record on rape?
And…what better way…what perfectly paradoxical way to distract everyone from viewing a film that addresses the country’s history with legalized rape, than to entangle the director of the film into horrorific rape allegations.
And, from what I have heard these are the worst sort of allegations, probably true, because it sounds as if Nate Turner, because he was an athlete, was subjected to what I refer to as “the rich white rules.”
Which are totally different rules than apply to most of us. You can rape, someone, hell you can even kill someone, and mostly nothing happens to you. Trump, clearly a beneficiary of the rich, white rules, said so himself. And people repeat this often, but no one even attempts to refute it.
But usually it is only rich white men, who get the rich white rules. But like Dave Chapelle said, the best way for a black man, to escape blackness is to be rich. Then the rich white rules apply, to a certain extent. They applied to Nate, as long as he was running that ball. But then, much like Colin Kaepernick, as soon as Turner decided to really talk about something, the rich white rules got revoked. And that is the trick too. The rich white rules apply as long as you are down with being a part of the oppression. The moment you begin speaking truth to power, all bets are off.
So where does that leave Turner? In a really awkward place. See he wants to talk about this oppressive system, that he has been up under his whole entire life, without talking about how he has (at a minimum) used that same system to his advantage with regard to the rape allegations leveled against him. With regard to all that, he responds from a place of privilege. If he truly raped the woman, he avoided responsibility for it once, why wouldn’t he seek to avoid it again?
And as for her suicide, I think a man in Turner’s position has only one choice…denial, denial, denial, denial — because who wants to authentically take responsibility for anything like that?
Who wants to say, “yes, I did this bad thing. I used my male privilege to rape, someone, with a friend. I was able to avoid all responsibility and punishment, which led to a far worse thing, (my victim’s death via suicide). I definitely don’t want to take responsibility for that. This isn’t fair. It is hard for me to see myself as a rapist, but now some want to take it even further and cast me into the realm of murderer.
As a result my world is crashing in all around me. Everything I’ve worked so hard for all my life is being destroyed, but that’s only because I’m a black man who tried to reveal a bigger truth. If I were white, I wouldn’t have to take responsibility for any of this. I am really the victim here.
If Nate Turner were to be perfectly honest and open about his current situation, I believe he’d be saying something along those lines.
But, he probably cannot be this honest with himself. He probably wants to, in fact needs to, believe that he did nothing wrong. He either convinced himself of this or was convinceD of this long ago; and even if he could face the truth, he cannot sell it. No one wants to really hear it. No one. It is just way to much truth for all of us. It speaks to how there is so much corruption in our system, almost anyone who tries to do the right thing, has also undoubtedly done many wrong things too.
And when it comes to sexual assault and rape we, as human beings, have so many double-standards, and false narratives (lies that we tell ourselves and lies that we tell others). And there are race biases and gender biases and privilege biases — and it all amounts to this- as a society, as a world, we tolerate tremendous amounts of rape and sexual assault — and Parker is demanding to be given a pass because he believes it owed to him. Who can argue against that? No one who voted for Trump. Clearly, some 60 million people believe that such passes should be given.