On Friday, Birth of a Nation actress Gabrielle Union penned an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times speaking out against her co-star Nate Parker, who made headlines in August when details of his 17-year-old sexual assault case resurfaced.
Union recounted the timeline of events leading up to her decision to write the column straightforwardly: Two decades after her own rape, Union had been asked to play the role of a sexual assault survivor in Birth of a Nation — only to learn that the film's writer, director and lead actor had been accused and acquitted of sexual assault.
"As important and ground-breaking as this film is, I cannot take these allegations lightly," Union wrote.
"Rape is a wound that throbs long after it heals," she added. "And for some of us the throbbing gets too loud."
Union said that though she's read all 700 pages of the trial transcript — which detailed claims that Parker and his friend Jean Celestin, who is a co-writer on Birth of a Nation, assaulted an unconscious woman while she was intoxicated — she has no way of knowing what truly happened. Union said the case itself, and her uncertainty, leaves her with "stomach-churning confusion."
But Union is looking forward, saying she hopes she can still accomplish what she set out to do when she signed on to Birth of a Nation.
"I took this part in this film to talk about sexual violence," wrote Union. "To talk about this stain that lives on in our psyches. I know these conversations are uncomfortable and difficult and painful. But they are necessary."
She added, "It is my hope that we can use this as an opportunity to look within... and to eventually wipe the stain clean."