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The Birth of a Nation and Being Mary Jane actress Gabrielle Union has penned a powerful essay in the wake of directer Nate Parker‘s rape controversy.

In the Los Angeles Times essay, Gabrielle revealed she was raped in the back of a Payless shoe store 24 years ago and the experience shaped her life as she knows it today. As proud as she is of the Nat Turner film, Gabrielle, 43, confessed she cannot ignore the ongoing scandal.

“My compassion for victims of sexual violence is something that I cannot control. It spills out of me like an instinct rather than a choice. It pushes me to speak when I want to run away from the platform. When I am scared. Confused. Ashamed. I remember this part of myself and must reach out to anyone who will listen — other survivors, or even potential perpetrators,” the star said.

“As important and ground-breaking as this film is, 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.’ 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. That’s why education on this issue is so vital.”

Gabrielle added that after reading the rape trial transcript, she still doesn’t know what happened between Nate and his accuser, but she maintains she wants to use the film as a tool to educate.

“Regardless of what I think may have happened that night 17 years ago, after reading all 700 pages of the trial transcript, I still don’t actually know. Nor does anyone who was not in that room. But I believe that the film is an opportunity to inform and educate so that these situations cease to occur on college campuses, in dorm rooms, in fraternities, in apartments or anywhere else young people get together to socialize,” she said.

We’re glad Gabrielle decided to address the scandal surrounding Nate and Birth of a Nation. Her voice is important to our culture and the fact that she’s so dedicated to lending her voice as a survivor makes us so proud.

You can read the essay in full here.

After reading Gabrielle’s essay, are you beauties going to check out the film?

SOURCE: Los Angeles Times | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty


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