The Being Mary Jane star said she was moved to write this open letter after news broke of her Birth of a Nation co-star, Nate Parker’s 1999 rape case. Parker was acquitted, but his comments recently on the victim and the occurrence pushed the case into the spotlight.
Union, who is a rape survivor, revisited that time 24 years ago to share why it’s important that she finally stood tall in her platform. “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 writes. “I also wanted to give a voice to my character, who remains silent throughout the film. In her silence, 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.”
The Omaha native also stated that no matter how fast she might want to run away from discussing this sensitive topic, she knows that the strength it takes to address rape and sexual violence in the international light will impact another rape survivor who has been silenced.
“My compassion for victims of sexual violence is something that I cannot control,” she writes. “It spills out of me like an instinct rather than a choice. It pushes me to speak when I want to run away from the platform.”
In terms of educating those around her on the subject and consent, she looks to her immediate family with her husband Dwayne Wade to begin the learning process at home. “As a black woman raising brilliant, handsome, talented young black men, I am cognizant of my responsibility to them and their future,” she pens. “My husband and I stress the importance of their having to walk an even straighter line than their white counterparts. A lesson that is heartbreaking and infuriating, but mandatory in the world we live in.”
Read the full letter here.