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Nate Parker’s Infuriatingly Ironic ‘American Skin’ and How I Wish Anyone Told This Story but Him

Writer, Director and Star of ‘American Skin’, Nate Parker (right)

I watched this film in a manner that ensures Nate Parker doesn’t receive financial gain… I implore you to do the same.

Two very important dialogues have the potential to gain momentum after watching ‘American Skin’; one being the ever-present issue of how we continuously allow the Blue Line to explain away their systemic racism. The other- how on earth Nate Parker thought it would be remotely acceptable to write, direct and star in a film about the courts not delivering justice.

While starting off as a mournful drama staged as a documentary, we follow a young student filmmaker as he records the life of a grieving father a year after his 14-year-old son is shot and killed by police during a traffic stop. This moderately paced sequence of interviews with Linc (Played by Nate Parker), as well as his friends and family, takes a drastic turn when he puts himself in the position to hold the officer accountable for his actions. It is only during this time — a designed situation of extreme stress — where everyone has an opportunity to speak their truths, advocate for their beliefs, and try to convince the other side to see the world through their eyes.

The pivotal moment of this film — an all too familiar occurrence when the justice system fails to condemn the blatantly guilty, is the driving force behind the main character’s motivation for revenge. What would have been an impactful scene is marred by the realization that Parker himself favoured from that same inherent preference not twenty years prior. In 2001, Parker was cleared of all charges after allegedly committing deplorable sexually-based offenses as well as continued harassment against a female student at the university he attended.

The eloquent monologues throughout the film that perfectly articulate the plight of the black community could have inspired one to really advocate for this film. But it is cruel and unjust for Parker to receive acclamation for criticizing a broken system from which he has benefited. Linc continues, throughout his quest for due process, to draw on the unfairness of those who terrorize society and how they are able to continue onto full, enriching lives — while those victimized must live with the shattered remains of theirs. He enlightens us on the importance of those in a position of privilege to acknowledge how a system they buy into encourages a cycle of oppression and misuse of power. I cannot wrap my head around his ability to convey these themes with such conviction. Adding insult to injury, he has the audacity to throw in a neat-and-tidy interjection about how women are also negatively impacted by these structures. It really is such a shame that a narrative with an extremely powerful, and well-executed message was relayed by the worst possible messenger.




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Bianca Sbrocchi

Bianca Sbrocchi

Writer for (She/Her)

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