By Javier Lopez
Sexual abuse and rape are very serious crimes and those who commit them must be held accountable.
Our society and criminal justice system treats the abuse of women and others too lightly and that needs to change. It is detrimental to women in our society and anyone who faces sexual assault, causing them to live in constant fear.
This issue is the reason why deciding whether or not to watch the new film “Birth of a Nation” which holds historical importance, has been incredibly difficult.
Nate Parker, the director of the film was charged with rape in 1999. This is a serious offense and it is harmful to anyone who has ever faced sexual violence.
Parkers college roommate Jean McGianni Celestin, who is also given credit in the film, was charged along with him. This all occurred during their time at Penn State University.
Parker was never held accountable and the charges filed against him were dropped.
Once Parker launched the films campaign, the rape case was brought to light once again. The fact that the victim committed suicide in 2012 was released as well.
It is fundamental to analyze the situation and understand the validity of the victim’s experiences.
The victim, whose name has not been released, dropped out of Penn State University after the incident. Her life was completely. Although the case took place years ago, this is not an isolated incident.
Sexual assault victims feel like they are voiceless because rapists are constantly set free without being held accountable. This happens on college campuses all of the time.
An example is Brock Turner who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at Stanford University. Turner was charged and released early because of good behavior. This was before completing less than half of his already short sentence.
There are sexual assault cases involving celebrities such as Donald Trump and Bill Cosby are all over the media.
Even with all of this coverage, no one is willing to accept that we live in a society where rape culture exists.
On Sep. 8, a police officer named James Larry Robinson was charged for raping a woman. Other police officers have been accused of doing the same.
We need to address the issue and find solutions rather than become desensitized by how often sexual abuse occurs in America and all over the world.
It is infuriating how lightly sexual abuse and rape cases are treated in our society when in reality it destroys victims lives beyond repair.
Being a student at East Los Angeles College, I want to stress the importance of these issues in order to create a campus and society that protects their students and community members from any harm.
If this was the only factor in deciding whether or not to watch the film, I would instantly say that we need to boycott it.
However, there is more to this messy situation.
The film, itself, has historical importance. Understanding our history as a nation is fundamental to our growth.
We must revisit our history and see how the past is affecting our future in order to begin healing and work towards a future in which we are all valued and seen as equals.
The story is set during Nat Turner’s rebellion.
It tells history from the point of view of the oppressed. Which in turn challenges mainstream history (historical perspective) as written by the oppressor.
Turner uses the film to show the resilience of slaves and their resolve to fight for justice, even under oppressive circumstances.
It is meant to empower the African American community in our present time as well.
The film was also created to override the original Birth of a Nation, directed by David Wark which is filled with white supremacist ideals. It was released in 1915.
This is why it has been such a difficult decision. The controversy itself is stuck between two very important social justice issues.
One is the importance of acknowledging rape culture in our society and dismantling it and holding those accused of rape or sexual violence accountable for their actions.
The other is the importance of revisiting our history and understanding all the damages that society has caused.
I will personally not be watching the film. However, it is up to each individual to decide whether to watch it or not.
Having said that, it is key not to choose one issue over the other. It is important to understand that both of the issues within the controversy are significant.
“Birth of a Nation” was highly acclaimed at the Sundance Film Festival, before the case was released, because of its message.
The family of the victim wishes to be left out of the controversy out of respect to the family member.