Gabrielle Union has written an open letter about the resurfaced rape allegations against her The Birth of a Nation co-star Nate Parker.
The 43-year-old actress plays a rape victim in the upcoming film, written and directed by Nate, and she is also a survivor of sexual assault in real life.
“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,” Gabrielle wrote in the letter published by the Los Angeles Times. “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. I knew I could walk out of our movie and speak to the audience about what it feels like to be a survivor.”
“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?” she continued. “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 went on to write that she and her husband Dwyane Wade are cognizant of their responsibility of raising their sons and speaking to them about the “boundaries between the sexes.”
“To that end, we are making an effort to teach our sons about affirmative consent. We explain that the onus is on them to explicitly ask if their partner consents. And we tell them that a shrug or a smile or a sigh won’t suffice. They have to hear ‘yes,’” she wrote.
Go to LATimes.com to read the full piece.