The Black Woman, the Black Man, and Rape
“As important and ground-breaking as this film is, I cannot take these allegations lightly. On that night, 17-odd years ago, did Nate have his date’s consent? It’s very possible he thought he did. Yet by his own admission he did not have verbal affirmation; and even if she never said “no,” silence certainly does not equal “yes.” Although it’s often difficult to read and understand body language, the fact that some individuals interpret the absence of a “no” as a “yes” is problematic at least, criminal at worst. That’s why education on this issue is so vital.”
With regard to actor Nate Parker being accused and acquitted of rape 17 years ago, and his accuser then taking her own life, possibly due to depression, in 2012, I have been silent. I have followed the story via popular news websites, and saw other digital magazines and blogs have their say on the matter, but, until now, I have chosen to say nothing.
I remained silent because I knew, should I have chosen to comment on it or write about it, I would have to tell my own story; one which I was at the time hesitant to tell.
It took seeing Gabrielle Union, a beautiful, accomplished actress and powerful black woman, open up about her experience of being raped at gunpoint 24 years ago, and how the Nate Parker Rape Aquittal affected her, to give me that extra push I needed to write about it. I felt that if she could do it, so could I.
They say an accused man is innocent until proven guilty. Nate Parker was accused of rape, but not found guilty, and, for this reason, many have argued that he has nothing to feel remorse for or to explain. The subject of black men, black women, and rape, on the whole, is a sensitive one, and there are some of us in the black community who sugar-coat it in a bid to not “bring each other down.” However, right is right, and wrong is wrong, even among members of the black community.
As a survivor of rape and sexual abuse myself, I, too, cannot simply look the other way when a woman cries rape, even if the man she accuses of raping her is black. Yes, I said I’m a rape and sexual abuse survivor. Even now, writing about it, being vulnerable before Soulreflectionz.com’s entire reading audience, is a form of healing for me, because for so long, I was ashamed to even talk about it.
Only the people closest to me knew about me being a rape/sexual abuse survivor, until now. And as I write, and as I heal, I know that I am helping another black woman somewhere in the world who has also been raped or sexually abused to bravely tell her story as well. Today, I finally let it go. I finally set it free, because I know now that what happened to me didn’t and still doesn’t define me, and surviving it has served to shape me into the strong black woman I am.
The man responsible for raping me/abusing me was never brought to justice, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t guilty. The world may not know that he is guilty, but I know that he is, and he knows that he is as well. I chose long ago to forgive this man, because forgiving him was part of my healing, and I was determined to claim ALL of my healing.
I have never sought for this man to admit to raping and abusing me, because his confessing his wrongdoing will neither add to nor take away from the person I have become. Whether or not he chooses to ever confess is between God and himself.
One of the reasons why I never took steps to bring my attacker/abuser to justice was that he is a black man, and one well loved by his family, neighborhood and community, and I didn’t want to be the person responsible for forever staining a black man’s name, even if that name-staining would be a direct result of his own actions.
Nate Parker’s accuser chose to speak out, and for this, she must not be shamed. The actor himself has not openly denied the allegations, and, though I was not there on that night 17 years ago and, like the rest of you, can only speculate, just like Gabrielle Union, I cannot take allegations of rape lightly, even if they are against a black man.
May this woman, now nearly five years dead, find the rest in death that she could not find in life.
By: Danielle Dixon
Follow her on Twitter: @tooprettydani