Much of the criticism towards “The Birth of a Nation” auteur Nate Parker’s discussion of his and “Birth” co-writer Jean Celestin’s 1999 rape trial focused on what were regarded as his self-centered remarks. As Tarana Burke said in her Colorlines opinion piece, ”At 36 years old, he showed no remorse or deep insight and essentially painted himself as the only victim.”
Parker addressed those criticisms in an exclusive Q&A with Ebony that ran Saturday (August 27), nearly two weeks after details about the trial emerged in a series of reports, including ones by The Daily Beast and Variety which revealed that the woman who accused Parker and Celestin of rape committed suicide in 2012. Parker responded to that news with a Facebook post, but otherwise maintained silence over a week-and-a-half long period before speaking to Ebony.
While acknowledging that he read some of the pieces criticizing him, Parker admitted he initially had a ”standpoint of ignorance” and that he’s working to unlearn misogynistic behaviors and thoughts:
All I can do is seek the information that’ll make me stronger, that’ll help me overcome my toxic masculinity, my male privilege, because that’s something you never think about. You don’t think about other people. It’s the same thing with White Supremacy. Trying to convince someone that they are a racist or they have White Privilege—if it’s in the air they breathe and the culture supports them, sometimes they never have to think about it at all. I recognize as a man there’s a lot of things that I don’t have to think about. But I’m thinking about them now.
Parker also dissuaded suspicions of a conspiracy against him by Hollywood elites wanting to see his film’s revolutionary premise squashed:
And I’m going to celebrate Nat Turner and if he’s a leader who inspires me, I gotta face injustices in my own community. I gotta face my past, whether it be 17 years ago or 17 minutes ago. I gotta be able to look at it and say, well, you know, I have engaged in hyper-male culture, and I’m learning about it, and I’m learning how I can change and help young boys and young men change.
What do you think about Parker’s new remarks? Let us know in the comments.