‘Birth of a Nation’ co-star Writes Op-Ed for Ebony Magazine about what she really feels about Rape Controversy

Actress Aunjanue Ellis Speaks out on Rape Allegations and Importance of Nat Turner Story

Tamika Morrison
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Tamika Morrison

Editorial Director at RYSE INTERACTIVE
Lover of #Archetypes. #PRTherapist #Editor @RYSEConnected. #WanderlustDiaries Author of #1stLadyRules + Founder of @TMORRISONAGENCY #Closer2MyDreams #Part2
Tamika Morrison
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I’ve had the pleasure of working for and meeting dynamic actress, Aunjanue Ellis, so when her op-ed dropped for Ebony Magazine in advance of the ‘Birth of a Nation’ screening, I couldn’t click fast enough to read.

 

You see, Aunjanue is bold as she is beautiful. Brash as she is brilliant and unapologetic about all of it. It’s what I’ve come to admire in her. It’s this combination and more that makes her enigmatic, alluring and simply put, magical.

 

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I’m not certain if she’s a survivor of sexual assault, the reality of one in five women in the United States, but I do know she doesn’t pacify misogynistic behavior nor does she placate to the weak distractions at work to discredit the importance of this film at such a ‘convenient’ time. One just cannot overlook the timing of all of this at play given this assault has been an open record since 1999.

 

We can’t simply think that ‘suddenly’ someone bigwig in “Hollywood” just now decided to pay attention to that fact — not until he, Nate Parker, actually has made something of himself. I digress. Let’s hear it from the mouth of a Black woman who knows Parker and one who stands by her convictions.

 

Then came August. First there was the late night text from a journalist friend who asked for my off the record opinion. Then, another other journalist friend wrote an open letter saying she wouldn’t see the film. Another blow came when a podcast I used to listen to every week called it “Django 2” and a “missed opportunity.” And finally, a friend–one my of best–who, when I asked her to come to a screening, hesitated and said, “I will go if you give me a pass, but I don’t want to pay for it.” These are all episodes from my recent tilt-a-whirl journey with The Birth of a Nation.

 

My feelings of abounding pride and optimism, have at times been replaced by defensiveness, and quite frankly, shame.

 

I have agonized over how my director, Nate Parker, has handled the fallout of the accusations against him. And before I say another word, I want to make it clear that I grieve for the accuser and her family. I don’t blame them for insisting that the world know what happened to her. And the idea that our movie would cause another woman or family affected by rape further pain has put me to bed in the middle of the day on more than one occasion. We cannot say that our movie seeks to heal the past when we do not acknowledge and show respect to this present pain.

 

I share the betrayal felt by Black women who are tired of covering Black men who exploit us commercially, but otherwise find us invisible. I get the fatigue of having to constantly choose between an allegiance to race or an allegiance to gender. It is an absurd and unfair choice made by women from Dorothy Height to Elaine Brown, our resistance movements have collapsed from the weight of misogyny and abuse from our most revered freedom fighters.

 

And Nate’s professed Christianity, which doesn’t seem to allow for forgiveness and grace—given or received—confuses and disaffects those who hear him. It has bred distrust and disdain. And yet, despite all of this, I still believe in Birth of a Nation. I still believe in its rare and transformative power.

 

Here’s why:

It is not “Django 2”

 

“Django” of Django Unchained was an invention of a Quentin Tarantino, a White man with a questionable history of racial portraiture (see Pulp Fiction and his almost rapturous use of the word “nigger” in almost every film). Birth of a Nation is about the real life of Nat Turner, a Black man who led a revolt in 1800’s Virginia to end slavery.

 

The fictional Django freed his wife and burned down the plantation after the plantation owner had been killed by another white man–Christoph Waltz killed Leonardo Dicaprio–not Jamie Foxx. In other words, even in a White man’s fictional portrayal of Black heroism, Black people can’t wrest real power from White men.

Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/entertainment-culture/birth-of-a-nation-aunjanue-ellis#ixzz4MdYAp5jC

 



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