In a new interview with Ebony magazine, Birth of a Nation director Nate Parker says his comments from two weeks ago – when he spoke to Deadline, Variety and on Facebook – about the now-infamous 1999 college rape charges were made “from a standpoint of ignorance.” In today’s Ebony Q&A, he says, “It’s like, if I don’t know how to swim and two weeks later I know how to swim, I know how to swim. Honestly, when I started reading them comments I had to call some people and say, What did I do wrong? What did I say wrong?”
“I called a couple of sisters that (I) know that are in the space that talk about the feminist movement and toxic masculinity, and just asked questions. What did I do wrong? Because I was thinking about myself. And what I realized is that I never took a moment to think about the woman. I didn’t think about her then, and I didn’t think about her when I was saying those statements, which was wrong and insensitive.”
Parker has acknowledged that he was unaware the female student committed suicide years after the 1999 incident at Penn State that Parker and Nation co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin say was consensual.
Parker and Celestin were charged with raping the woman while she was intoxicated and unconscious. Parker was acquitted and Celestin was convicted of sexual assault, though the conviction was overturned in 2005 and the accuser declined to testify at a new trial.
The story made international headlines after Deadline’s Michael Cieply and Mike Fleming Jr. published an interview with the director August 12.