Nate Parker Birthed A Nation — Now What? (According to an ‘Unrepentant Petty Black Feminist’)
Whether you fall under the category of people who’ve decided that Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation is critical viewing or those who fervently refuse to do so, few can disagree that the film’s coverage as of late has little to do with anything presented on the silver screen.
With an unimpressive box office opening performance — the film landed at #6 garnering $7.1 million during the weekend — one could make a case that this is the result of Parker’s consistently problematic arrogance during media appearances. Or maybe you could argue that once people realized how historically inaccurate its depiction of Nat Turner’s revolt is, viewers decided that they’d much rather watch a girl on a train.
Instead, it has been decided by many that those meddling black feminists are to blame. *insert Scooby-Doo villain here*
Yesterday, an article was published on Medium entitled, “Birth of A Nation’s Box Office Flop and The Unrepentant Pettiness of Black Feminists”
In short, it’s an oversimplification of why many black feminist’s decision not to see the film is the reason it’s tanked in theaters. Among them it lists that black feminists:
· Are petty and a “cyber mafia”
· Hate that Nate Parker’s married to a white woman
· Want to tear down the “successful ones” in black culture
The (ironically) African American female writer also says:
“If you haven’t seen/read the news already, Birth of A Nation has flopped in the box office and we have black feminism, which is just fancy cyber vernacular for ‘I hate black men because I always choose the wrong types of black men to entertain” and their male minions to thank.”
And I’m here to personally state that that sentiment, way of thinking and argument itself is utter bullshit.
For months, I’ve witnessed social media influencers as well as black media endlessly rant about why we need to support this project and why we have to bolster the film because it’s the narrative that “they” don’t want you to see and it finally culminated into the article above.
However, what all of these arguments fail to account for is how it feels to be a black woman who has to constantly put aside what’s morally right to you, just to prove that you’re in support of black men.
Not because he’s married to a white woman — a fact which I’ve known for YEARS and couldn’t care less about
Not because it’s trendy to do so.
Not because I hate black men.
Because frankly I’m exhausted by the idea of ignoring blatant misogyny, dismissiveness and lack of regard for black women’s emotional health for the sake of their male counterparts. I have no interest in supporting something that does not make me proud to do so.
In a Huffington Post article, Demetria Lucas D’Oyley said it best:
“Everyday that passes since Nate Parker broke this story to Variety and Deadline, I am more disappointed in him and his team. I want to see this movie. But I want to do so without feeling like I’m supporting a man who doesn’t get the gravity and depravity of his actions. I have been waiting for Parker to do something that makes me feel it’s okay to support him.”
Over the past eight months since the Sundance Film Festival, Parker has done nothing on his press tour, but essentially yell “shut up and move on” when for women who feel constantly silenced and neglected by society — that’s not an option; and as a former Nate Parker fan, it makes the decision all the more heartbreaking albeit necessary.
Also, as a community, it’s absolutely imperative for us to stop allowing the support of everything that’s black to be the measure of whether we support black culture itself. In terms of mainstream entertainment, black presence is probably the most pervasive that it’s ever been. From Issa Rae to Ava Duvernay to Donald Glover to Shonda Rhimes — there is so much amazing content being produced by black people today and not supporting one film won’t stop that progress.
Most importantly though, if we can’t police ourselves for being problematic, then who will?
So if you’ve read this and still decided that I’m an “unrepentant, petty black feminist”:
1) You might be right (although not for the Medium reasons above)
2) Damn if I’ll be apologetic about it