Nate Parker has apologized for his lack of sensitivity and awareness in regard to comments he made about a rape case of which he was acquitted back in 1999. Parker, who is finding some success with his drama Birth of Nation, was put on the spot last month when interviewers asked Nate to comment on the nearly twenty-year-old acquittal. Parker has come under heavy criticism for his response.
According to Deadline, the woman who accused Nate Parker and his Penn State roommate Jean Celestin of rape eventually ended up committing suicide. Parker and Celestin contended that the sex was consensual, while the victim stated she had been unconscious and unable to give consent. Parker was acquitted and though Celestin was initially convicted, the conviction was overturned on appeal and never retried. The victim’s brother said the rape eventually led her to drop out of school and she never rebounded emotionally from the trauma.
Parker took to Facebook in an effort to share his story, but Nate found himself scrutinized for painting himself as the victim.
However, since posting that, Nate seems to have had a moment of awakening.
In an exclusive interview with Ebony, Nate Parker admitted to being caught off guard, “When I was first met with the news that this part of my past had come up, my knee-jerk reaction was selfish. I wasn’t thinking about even the potential hurt of others; I was thinking about myself.”
Parker goes on to say that while his movie Birth of a Nation challenges the power afforded to white people because of their skin color, it was only through the challenge of addressing the past rape case that Nate has realized he also is privileged by his gender. Parker admits he had to reach out to gain some perspective because he wasn’t understanding all of the backlash he was receiving.
“I called a couple of sisters that know that are in the space that talk about the feminist movement and toxic masculinity, and just asked questions,” Parker continued, “What did I do wrong? Because I was thinking about myself. And what I realized is that I never took a moment to think about the woman. I didn’t think about her then, and I didn’t think about her when I was saying those statements, which was wrong and insensitive.”
Nate Parker admits that there are many things his current 36-year-old self would tell the 19-year-old self that was accused of rape. Among those things would be the importance of respecting women and their boundaries, the truth about consent, and the impact of what he calls “the hyper-male” culture that drives the perception that sexual conquests are what make a man.
While some of Nate Parker’s change in attitude is due to a new self awareness, it is also more than likely coming from the standpoint of a father. Parker has five daughters, one whom is currently in college. Nate admits he has immersed himself these past two weeks in reading material and watching the documentary The Hunting Ground, which focused on the topic of college rape, in an effort to understand where he went wrong and how he can move forward and make a difference. Parker states that he has had deep conversations with his daughters.
More importantly, Nate Parker admitted that when it comes down to it, even though he was acquitted of the rape charges, he does not get to be the victim in the story.
“I was acting as if I was the victim,” Parker admitted. “And that’s wrong. I was acting as if I was the victim because I felt like, my only thought was that I’m innocent and everyone needs to know. I didn’t even think for a second about her, not even for a second.”
[Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP]