Gabrielle Union is speaking out about the allegations of rape facing Nate Parker. Union, who plays a silent rape victim in Parker’s The Birth of a Nation, wrote an opinion piece for The Los Angeles Times in which she gave voice to her feelings about the allegations against her director and co-star.
“Rape is a wound that throbs long after it heals,” the actress wrote. “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.” Union was raped at gunpoint when she was 19, and has since become an advocate for sexual-assault victims. In 1999, Parker was accused and acquitted of rape. Variety reported that four years ago, his accuser committed suicide.
“Since Nate Parker’s story was revealed to me, I have found myself in a state of stomach-churning confusion,” Union wrote. “I cannot take these allegations lightly. 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.’”
In the piece, Union stressed the need for education on this issue. “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 wrote. “That’s why education on this issue is so vital.”
Union explained that one of the reasons she took part in The Birth of a Nation was to give voice to the victims of sexual assault. “In her silence, she represents countless black women who have been and continue to be violated,” she said of her character. “Women without a voice, without power. Women in general. But black women in particular.”
Union admitted that she was unsure about Parker’s innocence or guilt, but also stressed the importance of parenting in order to address these kinds of problems at their source. “We must speak to our children about boundaries between the sexes,” wrote Union. “And what it means to not be a danger to someone else.”
Read Union’s piece in its entirety here.