September 2, 2016


'Birth of a Nation' Star Gabrielle Union on Nate Parker: 'I Cannot Take Rape Allegations Lightly'

Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Samsung
Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Samsung

Gabrielle Union is speaking up about the rape allegations surrounding Nate Parker that recently came to life. The actress, who plays Esther in Parker's Birth of a Nation movie, wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times that explains why she chose the role and bravely recalls being raped herself.

The actress reveals she was raped 24 years ago at gunpoint and that she found out about her co-star's rape case one month ago: 

"Since Nate Parker’s story was revealed to me, I have found myself in a state of stomach-churning confusion. I took this role because I related to the experience. I also wanted to give a voice to my character, who remains silent throughout the film. In her silence, she represents countless black women who have been and continue to be violated. Women without a voice, without power. Women in general. But black women in particular."

She also says her own compassion for victims of sexual violence conflicts with taking part in Parker's film, who admitted he "did not have verbal affirmation." "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 writes.

The actress goes on to explain that her and husband Dwyane Wade make sure their sons grow up to understand the importance of consent, the boundaries between the sexes and how to make good choices.

While the conversations about rape culture may be triggering and uncomfortable to some, it is vital to trying to put an end to it and help those suffering in silence. "Sexual violence happens more often than anyone can imagine," Union states. "And if the stories around this film do not prove and emphasize this, then I don’t know what does."