The epic rise and fall of actor and filmmaker Nate Parker is currently still in the stages of grief and disbelief. How can it be that someone equipped with such brilliance, and with the evidence of his entrance into the esteemed walls of Hollywood’s elite — based on a dream come true — could also be aligned with a tragic mishap that cost only one life?
Secrets and lies.
Earlier this year, the buzzword was diversity. #OscarSoWhite gleamed in the landscape with the renderings of a mob that gathered to bring the industry to task for ignoring people of color by picking mostly White talent as the standard for global entertainment.
The Academy, led by a Black woman — Cheryl Boone Isaacs — decided to double efforts in the quest to prove that not only close-minded White men born before the 1940s will have the power to decide whether or not Straight Outta Compton was a hit or miss.
Spring cleaning was underway and, in the midst of the media overlay of atoning for the sins that will take an eternity to clean up without residue, there appeared the savior who had been groomed for the takeover of a lifetime.
Sundance was abuzz about a new film centering around a slave revolt led by African-American warrior — Nat Turner — and the star behind this surefire hit was none other than the dude from Beyond the Lights.
I have to say — and I am quite embarrassed about this — but I didn’t readily recognize who Nat Turner was once his likeness began to scorch the internet. It took me a minute — but then I was able to grasp the knowledge and exposure from some time ago.
I did, however, recognize the guy who was being hailed as The One.
Nate Parker was determined to get his movie made, and he sacrificed his pursuits as an actor to raise money and produce a script that would give White studio execs reason to glorify the heavens as they fought tooth and nail to land the project of a lifetime.
Who doesn’t love a slave story? Who can resist another script that depicts how Black people became black under the direction of White people who still enjoy watching Black people being penalized for being black?
The first half of 2016 was an awesome time for Nate Parker.
Fox Searchlight shelled out a shitload of money to be the distributor of his already branded blockbuster, and he and the cast that includes notables like Gabrielle Union, Armie Hammer and Aja Naomi King were already immersed in a press tour that reflected future earnings and projections.
Birth of a Nation was going to be the film that would save humanity.
If anything is too good to be true — it usually is. I was sold on Nate Parker and his much-appreciated contribution to the library of American cinema. How cool that a young Black guy with an abundance of talent and good looks could remain under the radar long enough to unleash a gem that was poised to be Black America’s version of Schindler’s List.
I was all in and so were you — until the ball dropped — but this time there were no fireworks or crowds cheering — the revelations sprinkling all around seemed to indicate the fact that we’ve all been duped.
Nate Parker is a rapist.
I could say “former rapist” but I really don’t know him all that well. What I do know is that he and his buddy from college, Jean Celestin, had sex with the same woman — which isn’t necessarily a crime — except — she didn’t want to have sex with them.
The incident took place back in 1999 and it transpired after a night of drinking. She serviced Parker and then Celestin took over the duties of physically molesting a young woman who was obviously not in any position to extract herself from two hungry beasts on the prowl.
"She seemed like she was into it."
Yeah, I bet. How many of us have had sex under the influence just for the fuck of it? How many of us have laid there as he rammed with erratic pleasure while we participated on cue — because our mental state was collapsing under the duress of the weight that overpowers.
This woman wasn’t willingly starring in a three-way that she helped co-write. This wasn’t an audition she signed up for.
She was gang raped.
A violation of her body on the basis that she was drunk enough to take it and woman enough to make her violators reciprocate with sprays of cum.
During a phone conversation that was recorded, Parker and his victim try to recap the events of that fateful night. She’s in freak mode and desperately needs to visualize how and why Parker and his friend were able to fuck her repeatedly, even though she was barely awake.
She is forced to resort to deceitful tactics in order to get the truth. She had to pretend that she was pregnant. A classic trap for assholes who are guilty beyond any reasonable doubt.
Parker at first assured her that he was protected during his pounding session, but, then he admits that he did “ejaculate on her back.”
The transcript of the call with his victim will haunt me forever. As a survivor of sexual mistreatment, I was pissed at the hot tears streaming down my face as I read the painful imprint of a soul that no longer dwells in the land of the living.
She killed herself in 2012.
We won’t say that she overdosed on pills because she was murdered by the dire acts of reckless boys who needed to give their bloated dicks the relief no other hole could provide. Let’s just say that she was troubled and weary and decided to end her pain on her own terms.
Either way, we can’t excuse the fact that her experience absolutely haunted her until the pain became too much to bear. And what would you do if you heard your abuser utter these words of destruction, just when you have your hopes up that maybe you can survive this:
“I’m not trying to be mean, but I felt like you put yourself in that situation, you know what I mean. I really felt like I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Nate Parker said this to the girl he violated.
It is a known fact that victims of sexual assault tend to navigate life with the threat of dying at their own hands. I can attest to this and that’s why this case has wrecked my entire being. She couldn’t survive her nightmare and how can we blame her?
The men who gamely penetrated her were eventually acquitted and only charged with the challenge of finding legitimate avenues that will lead them away from the scandal that could ruin them.
They almost made it.
We almost believed that Nate Parker was as awesome as he seemed— and even he tries to convince us that he is. His Facebook message reeks of misogynistic fodder and misfired entitlement as he highlights the fact that he is a father of daughters (as if that swiftly validates his commitment as a man of honor) while also reiterating the fact that he was only nineteen when he made the mistake of thrusting his member into an almost unconscious vagina.
Sorry, Mr. Parker — but being a young and horny dude attending college who indulges in a bath of liquor doesn’t excuse your inability to exercise caution when it comes to careless sexual relations with the opposite sex.
Apology not accepted.
Yes, I know Birth of a Nation has been on the radar long enough to wet your appetite — and all you want to do is end the year with the security of championing a film that tells the Black story our way.
I want that too.
But, not at the expense of a woman who died without alerting the monsters who helped direct her demise. It’s quite telling that Parker had no idea that the woman he raped — passed away — until the rays of success began to beam a little too brightly.
The heat awakened him and his condemned partner-in-crime— and now they are both forced to assure us that young guys make mistakes. And even though they could be responsible for the death of someone they took advantage of — enough time has passed — and so we need to gobble the details — spit it out and support they’re accrued efforts.
I won’t be seeing Birth of Nation — now or ever. I am thoroughly disappointed because I spent the first half of 2016 excitedly invested and filled with wonderment and adulation at the man who led a revolt both onscreen and off. The timing was perfect and he looked exactly like The One.
The savior, who could convince Hollywood that people of color are more than capable of curating the types of stories that dollars and cents adhere to without sacrificing the truth.
Unfortunately, Nate Parker’s story isn’t imaginary or a fictionalized version of events.
He and his road dog fucked a girl one night and they didn’t care about her well-being — nor did they gave pause to the fact that she was in no condition to effectively remove herself from the equation.
Also, the phone transcript screams “rapists” — especially since Parker’s blatant need to now atone for his sins since his career and reputation are on the line — is sickeningly timely. You should also be bothered by the fact that he just recently found out that his stolen orgasm may have contributed to the death of the woman who provided it many years ago.
It’s all so disgusting and relevant.
Disgusting because rape is never considered rape because women who spread their legs wide open are convicted of being drunk sluts with no control. Relevant because we now have the facts and the power to exact harm on the perpetrators.
You talk all this shit and now it’s time to live up to the hype.
Nate Parker is a rapist, and Birth of a Nation should be his exit. We can’t let him win. If I have to call upon the gods of justice — I will. This guy will not be the first or the last of his kind. There are tons of talented African-American creatives who are positioned for greatness.
Save your loyalty for them.
Do not squander your fundamentals on someone who manipulated the emotional map of a young college student — who later succumbed to the political and legal battlefield that never honors the woman’s right for redemption.
The boys always win.
If you are incensed by that declaration — show it. Don’t give two guys who raped a woman — the glory of a blockbuster that will dominate the Awards circuit in the coming months.
Kill Nate Parker’s dreams the way he killed hers. Do it for you.
This post originally appeared on Medium and is reprinted here with permission.
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Ezinne Ukoha is a multimedia journalist and poet based in New York and Los Angeles. She is a juggling wordsmith who loves to incorporate her obsession with pop culture and travel into as many facets as her words will allow. She is currently supplying content for various outlets including her blog, MyTrendyBuzz. She hopes to publish a book of poetry in the near future. Follow her on Twitter and ezinneukoha.com.