Rachel Charlene Lewis
September 02, 2016 8:29 am
Larry Busacca/VF16/Getty Images for VF

In light of Nate Parker’s rape allegations, Gabrielle Union penned an extremely powerful letter for the Los Angeles Times, and it’s so, so important. In a world where sexual violence and sexual assault are all too common, it means something when an icon comes forward as a survivor. In the below, she discusses the necessity of highlighting the voices of survivors and victims of sexual violence, the prevalence of rape culture, and what it means to be a black woman stripped of her voice. Please note that this may be triggering for some folks, as Union’s own rape is discussed.

She shared her own story.

“Twenty-four years ago I was raped at gunpoint in the cold, dark backroom of the Payless shoe store where I was then working,” Gabrielle Union began. “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. Seventeen years ago Nate Parker was accused and acquitted of sexual assault. Four years ago the woman who accused him committed suicide.”

And admitted her own feelings about the issue.

“Since Nate Parker’s story was revealed to me, I have found myself in a state of stomach-churning confusion. I took this role because I related to the experience,” she wrote. “In [my character’s] silence,” Union explains, “she represents countless black women who have been and continue to be violated. Women without a voice, without power. Women in general. But black women in particular. I knew I could walk out of our movie and speak to the audience about what it feels like to be a survivor.”

“It is my hope that we can use this as an opportunity to look within. To open up the conversation. To reach out to organizations which are working hard to prevent these kinds of crimes. And to support its victims. To donate time or money. To play an active role in creating a ripple that will change the ingrained misogyny that permeates our culture.”

Thank you, Gabrielle Union, for sharing your story. It means more than you know.

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