All Articles Tagged "rape"
Sheryl Underwood, A Rape Survivor, Defends Nate Parker: “He’s Given His Life To Christ. He’s Become A Better Person”
We told you that Nate Parker’s film Birth of a Nation didn’t produce as many ticket sales as predicted this past weekend. With the conversation focused on Parker’s past, specifically the allegations of rape against him in college, it seems that the story of Nat Turner was overshadowed. Many who initially planned to support the film, no longer wanted to. But one person who did see the film and is supporting Nate Parker is The Talk‘s Sheryl Underwood. Despite being a woman who was sexually assaulted, Underwood said on the show this week that at least Parker has tried to change for the better. She believes that if we’re going to forgo supporting his work and hold him to these allegations forever, we all need to do the same when it comes to acclaimed filmmakers like Roman Polanski and Woody Allen. Yes, it’s that conversation again…
“I think this is an odd time for this to be the time that they judge this man on this. He made a movie, Beyond the Lights, where he was some cop protecting some pop singer, and this never was brought out. And now it’s being brought out when he makes the most iconic film, the most thought-provoking film for some of us that believe that Nat Turner was a revolutionary,” Underwood said. “I also think when you talk about this, why is it that Roman Polanski can do whatever he wants to do and that was a 13-year-old child? Woody Allen? But I guess my feeling about this is, from a person who has been raped, one thing we need to take a moment to understand is the long-lasting devastating effect of rape on everyone involved. The young lady who could not move forward in her life that felt the only way to end that pain was to take her life. So when you talk about a movie that seems to artistically portray the violation of people who were considered property, then you’re talking about a political devastation, not just a sexual devastation that was supposed to motivate Nat Turner to do what he did. So for everybody in this room who does not understand, at the end of the day, his life has been changed, but he has evolved. He’s given his life to Christ. He’s become a better person. If you want to hold him to that, then you need to hold everybody else that’s done something to the exact same standard.”
Underwood has spoken in the past about being raped right after college. Her abuser was never caught. Still, she told PEOPLE that everything she went through made her a better, stronger person.
“I wouldn’t change anything in my life, because I have learned so much about myself.”
Check out Underwood’s comments on the controversy surrounding Parker below and let us know whether or not you agree with her.
This weekend, Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation will hit theaters and for its opening night, the organization Fvck Rape Culture (FRC) will hold a candlelight vigil with artists, filmmakers, and women in Hollywood. In a statement, Fvck Rape Culture explained that the event was created because: “FRC recognizes the need to hold space for those celebrating the advancement of people of color in Hollywood while continuing to fight for the victims of sexual assault and rape around the world.”
Rape survivor Elyse Cizek, the event’s organizer, who works as a model and actress told Variety:
“I chose to be a part of a demonstration because as a survivor I wish for space to be held for myself and others who have been left voiceless in an industry that has the power to create change but refuses to listen to the needs of those whom they have silenced. We are a huge part of their audience and are continuously victimized and shamed for the crimes committed against us, yet too often used as accessories and plot points for those who seek to gain from our experiences in spite of us. I personally am saddened not only for my own experiences but for those who were directly affected by the actions of both Nate Parker and those seeking to glorify him despite his negligence in addressing the issue of rape culture while simultaneously perpetuating it.”
In a press release about the event, Cizek also stated:
“Nate Parker has the platform at this time to speak to his brothers on how to listen to us, respect our boundaries and rights as women, and lead the conversation on consent. When this happens, when he is willing to listen before silencing us, and when he can join the dialogue on what can be done to advance the voices of women everywhere silenced by rape culture and toxic masculinity, I will be his greatest support. Until then I will not stand for it. Instead I will sit, in quiet solidarity, with those in need of a moment of silence for the lives and stories ignored by those who care more about the appearance of change than the responsibility of creating it.”
Aside from the film premiere, the decision to host the vigil also syncs with Nate Parker’s unbearable press tour, where many witnessed the actor/director arrogantly explain (and show) to journalists that he’s not remorseful for his actions before and during the 1999 rape case in which he was acquitted.
Last week, we reported that the woman who accused Derrick Rose of rape back in 2013, spoke to the Associated Press. She explained in great detail about what she remembers of the night from Rose and two of his friends, waking up the next morning disheveled, and most importantly, why she didn’t want to reveal her identity. Jane Doe said her conservative, Mexican family would be devastated by the news. She also said they have traditional, cultural expectations of her.
But it seems that her plan to shield them may be crashing down around her. According to TMZ, a judge ruled that Jane Doe can no longer use that pseudonym and must reveal her identity. Typically, the law allows sexual assault victims to file their cases anonymously to protect their privacy. But Rose filed documents saying Doe has abused the privilege by participating in what he calls a “nationwide pretrial media blitz” over the past week. He said Doe was interviewed over the phone and held a news conference.
Apparently Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald agrees, to some extent. Jane Doe will have to reveal her real name when the case goes to trial.
Veronica Wells Is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days.”
A mother is suing William Paterson University after her daughter committed suicide because the University did not fully investigate a rape she reported.
According to the New York Daily News , 21-year-old Cherelle Locklear’s body was found in her dormitory bathroom in Wayne, New Jersey last November. According to a federal lawsuit, Locklear took her life just two months after she was reportedly raped.
Her mother, Marquesa Jackson-Locklear, said that her daughter was attacked at the Sigma Pi house. She claims that when her daughter reported the incident, William Paterson “did not engage in even a modicum of the investigation required by law.”
The Title IX lawsuit names the university president, Kathleen Waldron, other school employees and the local police force responsible for Locklear’s death.
Locklear said her daughter, after attempting to take her life in October, reported the incident to campus administrator Theresa Bivaletz. But she said the complaint was not immediately sent to the police.
Eventually, the police did receive the complaint though. They did not question the alleged rapist and he was not punished in any way.
University spokeswoman Mary Beth Zeman said that while the university is saddened by the loss of its student, they are unable to comment on the case.
Earlier this summer we wrote about Mamdou Diallo. The 61-year-old man from the Bronx made national news headlines when he stopped his wife’s would-be rapist, Earl Nash, by beating him to death with a tire iron. He was hailed as a hero and released from jail earlier this summer. Many were calling for the charges to be dropped, lauding him as a hero.
In fact, Nash’s family requested that the charges be dropped. And the judicial system compiled.
In a letter to the court, “While we cannot undo the damage that was done that evening, we hope to bring some closure—not only to our family, but to Diallo’s family as well.”
Before Nash’s family asked that the charges be dropped, Diallo’s attorney said that he was considering taking a plea deal. Had he done so, he would have also faced deportation in addition to losing his freedom.
Diallo said, “I was not thinking something like this would happen to me because I never make problem I never make problem. For 60-something years, I never make problem. But when problem comes into your house, you have nothing to do.”
We’re glad the justice system got it right this time.
Veronica Wells is the culture editor for MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days.”
Not too long ago writer (and former Bravo TV star) Demetria Lucas D’oyley recounted a conversation she had with a male friend on Black male athlete elitism, and the news of Nate Parker’s criminal accusations. D’oyley shares a very controversial, but real perspective on the issue, and those like it for Black men. In the conversation the anonymous friend makes it a point to ask the racial background of Nate’s accuser.
Upon hearing the alleged victim was a white woman, here is what he had to say:
“Hold up,” he asks. “She was white or black?
Me: “Why does it matter?”
Him: “It matters.”
Me: “She was white.”
Him: “That’s what I thought. Without reading the transcript. I’m going with not rape.”
Me: “Ok. Why?”
And this is how we get to: “You’re not gonna get it. Cause you’re looking at it like a black girl. White girls are entirely different.”
I present his thoughts with no commentary:
White girls are whores.
That sounds bad. And not every white girl is a whore. I shouldn’t say all of them. But on a college campus and around Black athletes? I never met one that wasn’t.
The conversation goes on to give several examples of wild nights with white women, and teams of athletes, leaving the former athlete to conclude that it is not likely that Parker committed rape. Recently, the previously critically-acclaimed film maker has been taking severe heat for the 17-year-old rape accusation, despite his acquittal. Parker’s 1999 indiscretion has cast a grim shadow over his compelling film, The Birth Of A Nation. Amongst those speaking out regarding the breaking news of Parker’s trial is the forthcoming film’s cast member Gabrielle Union.
Since hitting the big screen, Union has been an advocate for victims and survivors of sexual abuse. The actress has recounted her experience as a rape victim through several media outlets, and recently penned an open letter addressing her feelings on Nate Parker’s accusation, and working on the film, where she plays a slave and rape victim.
“Since Nate Parker’s story was revealed to me, I have found myself in a state of stomach-churning confusion,” Union wrote. “Twenty-four years ago I was raped at gunpoint in the cold, dark backroom of the Payless shoe store where I was then working. Two years ago I signed on to a brilliant script called The Birth Of A Nation, to play a woman who was raped. One month ago I was sent a story about Nate Parker, the very talented writer, director and star of this film. As important and ground-breaking as this film is, I cannot take these allegations lightly, regardless of what I think may have happened that night 17 years ago, after reading all 700 pages of the trial transcript, I still don’t actually know. Nor does anyone who was not in that room.”
As a wife and stepmother, Gabrielle has taken initiative to teach her son’s about “affirmative consent.” The ‘yes means yes’ approach teaches young men that interpreting body language, and facial expressions will not suffice without a solid, verbal yes. As an excellent take on sexual education and consent, the conversation also brings forth the shadowy truth about Black male athletes and the sex culture that surrounds them.
As a participant in this culture, Demetria’s friend goes on to say:
“Girls would come by and that would be their purpose. It was no pretense, like, “oh, we’re just gonna chill or watch TV.” It was unspoken. She might show up with some friends and they were down too. It might just be everyone gets their d–k sucked. It might turn into an orgy. It might be two guys f–king the girl at once. Or if you want some privacy, you go wait in your room and she comes into f–k you, then send her to the next room.
This one time, I was a freshman. The junior and senior players come to my room and are like, “get up. Come with us.” I don’t know what’s up, but I go ‘cause I’m new to the team and I want to belong. We go to their apartment. It’s a double room, so two beds. They tell me to sit on the bed. Two girls come in. White girl and a Spanish girl. They see me and are like, “him too? We’re tired. We’ve been going all night!”
The guys tell them I played on the team with [super star athlete whose name you would recognize] in high school.
The girls are like, “Oh, this is him?” And then they start trying to f–k me. It was no big thing. The other guys sit on the other bed playing with their [own] dicks. That was weird as sh–.”
Here’s where it gets tricky with white girls though. With Black girls, you treat her like a whore and the next day she hangs her head in shame. You treat a white girl like that, she gets embarrassed and cries rape. You have to treat her like “the party last night was crazy! We all had so much fun! Can’t wait to do it again!” Maybe white guys don’t have to do that. I don’t know. Black guys do. You know the dynamic of Black men and white woman and how quickly that can go wrong. You never forget that part.
White girls, you can be like, “my man wants his d–k sucked too!” and he’ll walk in, and she’ll just suck it. Or, “my man wants to f—k too” and she’ll do it. It’s not even a thing. It’s just the culture—threesomes, putting your man on, passing girls around? They–allegedly–do it and don’t think twice about it.
Where exactly do the lines become blurred in this type of environment? Admittedly, I have advised my brother, a rising basketball star, and other rising athletes I’ve come to know to steer clear of white girls, and never run trains with their friends. While it may sound ridiculous, this is a harsh reality that breeds severe consequences on both ends of the spectrum.
History has proven time and time again that white rape accusations are equivalent to criminal convictions. The education of ‘yes means yes’ is crucially imperative to not only end sexual abuse, but to save the lives and careers of Black men. Young women and men need to be equally responsible for their actions, especially when impairing substances are in the mix. ‘Yes means yes’ gives power to all parties potentially engaging in sex. A clear concise verbal yes, leaves no room for blurred lines and twisted lies.
Are baller orgies and the Black male elitist fetishization going to end? Probably not.
With the spot light shining on rape culture and sexual abuse a conversation is beginning to form that will save potential victims of abuse as well as victims of being accused. This conversation shifts the male athlete perspective from expectation to appreciation, and respect whether or not they score. Although everyone has the right and free will to sleep with whom they choose, whenever they choose to do so, rape, and false accusations of rape are never okay.
Do your sons play sports? Have you had the talk yet? What advice would you offer your son to keep him from making a life-altering mistake?
Late last year, we learned that Nicki Minaj’s brother Jelani Maraj was charged with raping a child. Then a few weeks ago, we reported that Maraj’s DNA matched the semen found on the 12-year-old accuser’s clothes. All in all, it’s not looking good for him.
And the bad news keeps rolling in.
According to the The Daily Mail, Maraj’s wife of just a year, filed for divorce. Jacqueline Robinson filed divorce papers in Nassau County, days before the couple would have celebrated their one-year anniversary.
Robinson, his soon-to-be ex wife, has not commented on the rape charges Maraj is facing but the divorce is labelled “Uncontested Matrimonial” meaning both parties agree to the separation and have reached an agreement on the distribution of assets and property. The case is still pending in New York court.
At the time of his arrest, Maraj argued that the young girl had him confused with another man.
This was before his DNA was found on the young girl’s pants and the victim showed signs of repeated vaginal and anal penetration.
Maraj, according to his own Twitter account, currently owns or once owned a daycare center in Queens, New York.
Maraj is due in court later this month. If convicted, he faces 15 years to life in prison.
If you were ever unclear on the definition of White privilege, you need look no further than Brock Turner, also known as the Stanford swimmer/rapist. When Turner was found guilty of three counts of rape, the nation was outraged that he was only sentenced to six months in prison.
The judge, Aaron Persky, decided that sentencing Turner to more than six months would leave a “severe impact” on the convicted rapist. Sadly, despite the injustice of the ruling, Turner’s six-month-sentence was still more severe than most rapists.
And today’s news just adds insult to injury.
Turner, according to Rolling Stone, and several other news outlets, is being released later this week for “good behavior.”
He’ll be a free man as of Friday, September 2nd. The maximum charge for Turner’s actions was 14 years in prison.
As a result of Persky’s decision, California’s state legislature passed a bill that would hopefully prevent other judges from making lenient rulings in the future.
The new bill would ensure that convicted rapists serve a minimum of three years in jail.
As a part of his sentence, Turner will have to register as a sex offender.
Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the editor of Bettah Days.
Fox Searchlight seems to be a little shaken up. After their $17.5 million investment into Nate Parker’s film The Birth of a Nation, it seems that they could possibly lose some money if audiences are unwilling or unable to forgive him for his past “indiscretions,” to put it lightly.
In case you’ve missed it, 17 years ago, Nate Parker and Jean Celestin (the man who co-wrote The Birth of a Nation with him) were accused of rape. Celestin was actually convicted but the case was thrown out when the victim refused to testify a second time. But Parker was acquitted because he and the young lady had had consensual sex before. If you read the transcripts from a conversation with the alleged victim and Parker, it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. And the testimony of another man who was there at the time of the incident paints an even worse one. Not only were they accused of rape, afterward they spent weeks antagonizing their accuser, following her after classes, to her dorm room, revealing her identity to fellow students.
Then in 2012, after a couple of suicide attempts around the time of the incident, the woman finally succeeded in taking her own life.
These days, though Celestin is credited as a co-writer for the film, Parker has chosen to distance himself from him. Even though according to testimony, it was Parker who summoned Celestin into the room, with the alleged victim back in 1999. And Parker has said that Celestin was the first person he ever told about his Birth of a Nation idea.
Today, he says: “I wrote the screenplay by myself,” Parker said, adding that no one helped him on the first of 40 drafts he’s worked on since 2007. When pressed about Celestin’s contributions, Parker said obliquely: “I just did a lot of research. I hired a lot of people. I had researchers. I had all kinds of people. I just wanted people to feel whole.”
The emergence of all these details had many wondering whether or not they should still support the film. I’ve said that I could not. And there are others, perhaps most notably, writer Roxane Gay, for The New York Times.
In a recent article for Variety, sources close to Parker reveal that he is a bit surprised by the reaction.
Likely because the facts of his rape case have never been hidden. It’s been featured on his wikipedia page for years now. According to Variety, a source who has been in close communication with Parker says that “he’s in a low place…He vacillates between thinking the case is resurfacing now after 17 years because of a Hollywood conspiracy against him or just bad luck. He’s disappointed over the backlash on social media and that the African American online community hasn’t been more supportive. And he’s even mad at himself, for underestimating the public’s interest in a court case that happened so long ago.”
Well, I won’t speak for the whole African American community, but I’m disappointed in Nate Parker. I would have loved to see The Birth of a Nation. But it’s his actions that, albeit a while ago, that are distracting people from what I’m sure was a beautifully made, game-changing film. And while we’ve all made mistakes we wouldn’t want drudged up and made public, I’m willing to bet that most of our mistakes didn’t forever alter the course of someone’s life. As I’ve said before, it would have been convenient if this rape scandal presented itself at the beginning of Nate’s career, so he could have moved past it by now. But that’s not how karma works. It comes when it’s ready. And it’s something like poetic justice that Parker finds himself disappointed and low, probably in the same ways the young lady did when he and Celestin were taunting and harassing her after she reported the alleged rape.
As much dissent as I, and a few other vocal people online, have expressed. I doubt that the film, if it is released as planned, will suffer. Instead, I’m sure that there are plenty of Black folk, mostly men, who believe, like Parker, that this is some type of twisted conspiracy to keep the Black man down. Even after the White man put $17.5 million into the project. I’m sure there are those who are able to separate the art from the artist.
We’ve all done it at one time or another. Woody Allen is nominated for an Oscar every other year, even though he married his ex wife’s adopted daughter. Marv Albert sodomized someone and NBC makes sure that he eats very well. R Kelly’s track record with little girls is disgusting but he’s still touring, selling out venues. Bill Cosby still, after 50 + rape accusations, has people who swear he’s Heathcliff. And even me. I love me some Al Green and James Brown, though they were both notorious for abusing their wives and girlfriends. Even my beloved Prince, God rest his soul, had a questionable relationship with Mayte, most likely before she was of legal age. There is a lot the public is willing to forgive, especially if there is art or entertainment value attached to the person. Who knows where their heads will be in a few months, when it’s time for the movie to come out. Maybe then, we’ll all have forgotten, rationalized, dismissed, or completely ignored our disappointment for Nate Parker’s actions 17 years ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nate Parker is a little less disappointed in the Black community come October.
Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire. She is also the author of “Bettah Days.”
Nate Parker has been in the news a lot lately and unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. It’s been a little over a week that Parker, who wrote, directed and stars in the hotly-anticipated film The Birth of a Nation, chronicling the slave revolt led by Nat Turner, found himself regurgitating details regarding an old rape allegation from 1999 that had conveniently resurfaced during his press run.
While many are wondering whether or not to support Parker’s film, which sold for a whopping record $17.5 million at Sundance, one man has his mind totally made up. Rev. Al Sharpton believes the resurgence of the case that was already public information for nearly a decade is simply a sabotage to turn the anticipation for the film flaccid.
“I want answers,” Sharpton told the New York Daily News. “I’m suspicious.”
The details of the rape trial show that Parker was acquitted of all charges, but it still could definitely sway the buzz, support of the film, and even award nominations, which Sharpton strongly questions—especially the timing.
“If a person is accused of a crime and is acquitted, are we now saying they should not be considered for an Oscar?” asked Sharpton.
Parker, a now 36-year-old married man and father of five, addressed the case in two various interviews so far. After finding out that his accuser committed suicide in 2012, he wrote a Facebook post:
“While I maintain my innocence that the encounter was unambiguously consensual, there are things more important than the law. There is mortality; no one who calls himself a man of faith should even be in that situation. As a 36-year-old father of daughters and a person of faith, I look back on that time as a teenager and can say without hesitation that I should have used more wisdom.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree with Sharpton’s suspicions?