People

Gabrielle Union sounds off on Nate Parker rape controversy, ‘Birth of A Nation’

By Madeleine Marr

mmarr@miamiherald.com

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Former Miami resident Gabrielle Union is speaking out.

The actress, aka Mrs. Dwyane Wade, is very concerned about the rape allegations against director Nate Parker, whom she worked with on “The Birth of a Nation” in which Union plays a victim of rape herself. Parker also wrote the script and costars.

In an op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times, the “Being Mary Jane” star writes that 24 years ago she was raped at gunpoint while working at a Payless store, and that two years ago she took the role in “Birth” partially because of that and for her “compassion for victims of secual violence.”

“Different roads circling one brutal, permeating stain on our society. A stain that is finely etched into my own history,” Union wrote in the piece. “Rape is a wound that throbs long after it heals. And for some of us the throbbing gets too loud. Post traumatic stress syndrome is very real and chips away at the soul and sanity of so many of us who have survived sexual violence.”

Parker was acquitted in a 1999 rape case and maintains his innocence. His accuser killed herself in 2012.

Union goes on to discuss the topic of consent.

“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.” Although it’s often difficult to read and understand body language, the fact that some individuals interpret the absence of a “no” as a “yes” is problematic at least, criminal at worst.”

Union’s overall message: The key is more education on this issue.

She also goes on to mention former Miami Heat star Wade and his two sons plus his nephew whom they live with in Chicago:

“As a black woman raising brilliant, handsome, talented young black men, I am cognizant of my responsibility to them and their future. My husband and I stress the importance of their having to walk an even straighter line than their white counterparts. A lesson that is heartbreaking and infuriating, but mandatory in the world we live in.”

  Comments