Is it possible to separate “the person” from an act that we deem unforgivable? Take R. Kelly for example, while he was awaiting trial for child pornography Kelly released two collaborative albums with Jay-Z and three solo albums, all of which sold no less than a million records, but after he was found not guilty it seemed the support that he had before the verdict was no longer there which resulted in a dip in album sales.
So while people like to talk about R. Kelly, as if he is the R&B version of Lord Voldermort (He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named), and compare him to Bill Cosby, it seems all was forgotten long before he was found not guilty.
Now enter Nate Parker whose past has been a topic of discussion recently partially due to the revelation that he is married to his college sweetheart, who happens to be white, and a not guilty verdict stemming from a 1999 rape allegation. The former coming as a shock to his fan base, especially women, causing them to question his “wokeness,” and the latter causing his fan base to question Nate Parker as a whole – is he a good dude?
Since the revelation of Parker’s rape allegation and subsequent acquittal a debate has erupted causing a choosing of sides. Should the African American community boycott or support “The Birth of a Nation” movie? A film which made history at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival when Fox Searchlight Pictures acquired the distribution rights for $17.5 million, breaking the record for the most paid for a Sundance Film Festival production. Why is this important? This film, co-written, co-produced, and directed by Nate Parker, is about Nat Turner’s slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831. History.
Those that are in support of Parker and the movie point out the historical importance of the movie as well as his acquittal.
His detractors point to the seriousness of the allegations; the fact he is still friends and collaborating with his co-defendant (who was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to prison, but was eventually overturned on appeal); and the fact that the victim, committed suicide in 2012, presumably from not being able to live with…
Now, I wonder, why is this being debated today? Anybody with a computer between 1999 and now could have found out all about his sexual assault case as it is public record. I mean if it was really about the victim wouldn’t this information have come to light a long time ago? I also wonder, if Parker’s movie wasn’t about Nat Turner would those that are in support care about it’s significance to the African American community if it was another hood movie?
Again is it possible to separate the person from an unforgivable act, personal feelings aside? No one is calling R. Kelly a saint, especially with the numerous other allegations of sexual relationships with underage girls, not to mention his annulled marriage to Aaliyah; but just like the rest of us isn’t he allowed the opportunity to be forgiven? I mean, I’m sure those of us that feel remorse for whatever bad thing we’ve done in our past would like to be forgiven at some point, so why not R. Kelly, Nate Parker, Bill Cosby, and whoever else has done something that we find horrendous. Forgiveness is a funny thing isn’t it?
We aren’t our transgressions even though we are often defined by them, we are much more. It’s possible for someone bad to do something good just like it’s possible for someone good to do something bad. The question is, where do we draw the line? Hell do we even want to?
Forgiveness is not the same thing as letting someone off the hook. I know. However, it is about being able to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person who has harmed you after holding them accountable.
Is it more important to make sure someone never forgets what has happened than it is to give someone a second chance?
Talk to me, I’ll talk back.