This is not a review of the movie, no. On Friday, October 7, 2016, Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation, a movie about Nat Turner's slave' rebellion of 1831 comes out in theatres. This is a movie I have been waiting for all year ever since I read that Fox Searchlight Pictures picked it up for the largest deal to date at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
The official trailer for Fox Searchlight's The Birth of a Nation. Opens in theatres 10/07/2016
Since then, the film has been marred by revelations of Nate Parker's past rape allegations of which he has been acquitted of in 2001. The rape accuser has sadly gone on to commit suicide in 2012. Some folks though aren't satisfied by the fact that he and his co-accused were acquitted of raping the said woman (his co-accused has also worked on The Birth of a Nation). Because as far as back as August 2016, Twitter has been the courtroom for Nate Parker's retrial, the judge & jury. The concession of that guilty verdict on Twitter has been a call for people to boycott The Birth of a Nation - A MOVIE ABOUT NAT TURNER, AND A SLAVE REVOLUTION.
I think that is no reason to boycott a movie that has significantly less to do with Nate Parker, and more do with Nat Turner & the slaves of Southampton County, Virginia, 1831. Boycotting this movie while black might especially be of disservice to oneself. Sure, I'll just read about it, & learn the revolution. You can do that, but there is something about a dramatized visual of historical importance and the endless research that goes into it that can go a long way; especially knowing that black historical events are not readily available, or are misrepresented. With that in mind, it's important for us Black people to learn about our history, every way possible. It's important to note that Nate Parker has worked on this movie since 2009, and it's only coming out 7 years later. He also co-wrote, co-produced, & directed the movie.
Am I condoning rape? Certainly not! I DO NOT CONDONE RAPE OR ANY KIND OF ABUSE, SEXUAL OR OTHERWISE. This is not some Donald Trump healing race relations with law & order, far from it. But the truth of the matter is, Nate Parker made Birth of a Nation. He is not the only black actor in Hollywood. That much is true. But he was the ONLY black actor who was willing to sacrifice, his time (he went on an acting hiatus to make sure The Birth of a Nation was made, the many hours of research & writing the screenplay for the the film), his money ($100,000 to hire a production designer & pay for location scouting). Certainly, he was the only one that saw that Nat Turner's story needed to be heard & seen by a much wider, and probably diverse audience. Should Parker really pay for his sins or lack thereof, depending on how you see it, in this way? That he shouldn't have made this film or that he shouldn't 'put a fictional rape at the center' of The Birth of a Nation? I think not. Nat Turner's revolution needed to be told. As for Black slaves being raped during slavery, this is no fictional tale.
This is not Nate Parker's story, this is Nat Turner's story and those slaves of Southampton County, Virginia, 1831, and their revolution. We all should not condone rape, but we shouldn't have to punish Nat Turner & those slaves of the revolution for Nate Parker's sins, either. They are having a moment in their triumph with Birth of a Nation, and so, we shouldn't take that away from them by not seeing the movie.