Dhoruba bin-Wahad, formerly of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army, also a former political prisoner, talks about his criticism of our previous interview with Dr. Leslie Alexander regarding Birth of a Nation. His is a critique from the perspective of one who himself engaged in armed rebellion and one who is concerned with the intellectual and academic treatment of histories by those insufficiently engaged in or knowledgeable of those histories and the politics involved.
To add, I think that a film work like a novel should be judged on the merits of the genre to which it is assigned. “The Birth of a Nation” by Nate Parker is a work of fiction. He did not claim that it was a biography nor did he say it was a historical reenactment. He said that the story was “based” on a true story. I emphasized based as the operative word because it denotes from the beginning that some historical inaccuracies would be present. The importance of fiction is that the characters are symbolic of archetypes which are universal. In the case of the central character Nat Turner, he is the archetypal warrior who re balances the world through destruction and violence. As he said in the movie “the wrath of God”. For those of you who practice African religion, your will see Ogun, Shango, Herukhuti, Heru and also Obatala or Ausar. It is important for our images to be translated into archetypes of universal principles as it was done in this film. I love the fact that there is so much controversy surrounding this film and the brilliance of the film maker to name it “The Birth of A Nation” forcing people to revisit “Birth of a Nation” which vividly displays the fear of Blacks due to genetic annihilation as proposed by Ancestor Dr. Frances Cress-Welshing a genius in her own right! I would say that with what is going on today, the movie is timely and effective.
The film opened with “based” on a true story. So symbolism and other elements of storytelling have to be considered. I saw the film twice and the message got across. Fight or die a slave. The slave community was vibrant the men loved their women and children and men who fought and died did not die in vain. Nate Parker portrayed a humane sensitive loving yet fierce warrior who was unapologetic. I walked out of the theater feeling great renewed and in awe of our ancestors who survived the horrors. As Sister Sonia Sanchez has said “We a bad people”.
Dhoruba needed to see the film first before he critiques your critical analysis. Maybe then his analysis could be more pointed instead of all over the place.