Hello Faithful Blogosphere! I know, three posts in 2 days, someone call help! But in all seriousness, exploring LA and the downtime that being unemployed presents, gives me so much time to think, write and of course…blog. The main topics of today’s blog entry include: Religion or lack thereof, support and what it looks and feels like to me and the recent buzz around Nate Parker and Birth of A Nation. It may be long, but hold on to your seatbelts because I promise it will be worth it!
Religion. It’s such an interesting part of our existence as human beings on this planet, isn’t it? I grew up in a Black Catholic family. For those who don’t know, basically the catholic religion with a whole lotta gospel music. It’s basically the same as Baptist Christianity with a few variations. I went to Sunday school, made all the sacraments, and went to Catholic middle and high school. Through all of this, I never not once connected with the religion or “felt the spirit” as my peers did. I hated reading the bible and I wondered where the words from women of the time period were. I hated that men were represented so strongly in the religion with only Mary, the mother of Jesus as a representative. I hated that the body and sex were seen as sin and not ways in which humanity connects and finds freedom. I yearned for my spirit to feel some sort of connection to something. Needless to say, as soon as I went to college, I stopped going to church all-together. Does this mean that I started going against the things I knew to be right? Nope. My moral compass worked just fine. So why did I need religion to guide me? I found spirituality. As Ntozake Shange said “I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely.”
For anyone out there who is religious, I do not mean to down your beliefs. I simply mean to say that those specific things that I endured did not work for me and my soul. I believe there to be many pros for religion as well as cons. The cons were just too weighted for my spirit to take flight. This is a perfect lead in to talking about support. What is a support system? According to Merriam-Webster, a support system is:
Support System (noun):
the group of family, friends, colleagues, or professionals available to help a person or organization when required.
As the ambiverted soul that I am, I’ve always had many friends, or rather people that I believed to be my friends. I’ve always been a big ball of energy, sometimes out of control and oftentimes just wanted to spread and receive hugs and love. In my life, I’ve experienced such profound levels of support while at the same time experiencing such levels of hurt. I used to have the hardest time with discernment. I always want to believe that people are good, so they must be coming to me with positive wishes right? WRONG. Not everyone is your support system. Support systems grow like trees. They start small and through storms and heat waves and droughts, they are tried and tested, but if they make it through, they continue to grow. Some don’t make it. Some break and snap and wither and die. In moving across the country, I’m learning just who my support systems are. I’ve had people contact me from high school to wish me well and offer an ear and instead of being spiteful or too strong, I’ve rested upon that ear, that shoulder and the warm vibes of love. Friendship knows no time. Years can pass and you can not hear from people and then all of a sudden, people can re-appear. Some of those people are good for you, some aren’t. At best, family, wether made or born into will be there if you let them.
At this point, I’m going to put a TW or Trigger Warning for those that might be affected by conversation of sexual assault.
When I first saw a film with Nate Parker, I was a teenager and it was The Great Debaters. I thought he was cute, didn’t really understand why Jurnee Smolletts’ character would be into him but I was like “eh, support the black man I guess.” Then I saw Pride, The Secret Life of Bees and Beyond the Lights. In each, I thought his acting was on par, his looks pretty solid. I saw that he was married to a white woman and as a black woman who dates all kinds of people, I thought nothing of it.
Then, Birth of a Nation happened. As an Africana Studies major, I had studied Nat Turner and fell immediately in love. This man who was enslaved and took his life into his own hands. This man who fought back, who rebelled without apology, who sought freedom with everything in his heart and soul. I saw the trailer and absolutely lost my mind. This was a movie that I could sit in theaters and feel proud of. It told the truth, despite the wealth of slave narratives that seemed to be springing up, told by various points of view, very few of which by American Blacks.
Then, I heard of Nate Parker’s sexual assault history, and my heart dropped to my feet and never returned to my chest. It all made sense. Of course he had a sexual assault history, of course he’s married to a white woman, of course he makes these historical films to attempt to redeem himself when really all he’s doing is asserting his patriarchal evidence of oppression towards black women. I don’t wanna psycho-analyze or attempt to pretend that I either know or care about the inner workings of his life. My greatest concern is the willingness to support him, regardless of this history.
As a two-time sexual assault survivor, I CAN NOT and WILL NOT support Nate Parker or any project that he is a part of. After reading transcripts and articles galore of both his involvement with the woman he assaulted and his responses to being outed, I realized that this is the norm. The black community will support the black man and leave out black women. Until this changes, we will continue to be raped and shoved into corners only to be forgotten about and oppressed by seeing our rapists unpunished onscreen.
Black women give birth to giants and then have our motives questioned. Black women birthed this country. After all, Nate Parker’s mother is a black woman. Why is it that to convince men to not commit crimes against us, we attempt to remind them of where they sprang from? Shouldn’t it just be enough that we are here, we are a part of them, we deserve love and respect with our brown skin, our deep gaze and our hurt hearts?
Miles Davis, the classic womanizer that he was, still is revered among musicians and non-musicians, black and white alike. What makes us so willing to uplift these men who clearly not only don’t care about our well-being but willingly dismiss our needs? Black women are the most likely to commit suicide and the most likely to be sexually assaulted. Who will stick up for us?
I am astonished that the conversation is taking place. I’m overjoyed that there are so many articles and vlogs and chats going on about this, but ultimately, what speaks is where we put our money. Don’t go see the film. Resist oppression.
Until Next Time Xo