Whose Violence? Which Insurgence?: White Supremacy in the Mirror of Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation

Nat TurnerBy Dr. James Perkinson, Ecumenical Theological Seminary (Detroit, MI), prepared comments presented at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church’s “Social Justice Forum,” October 21, 2016 in response to the film

It was a Jewish man, Walter Benjamin, during WWII, who once said, “Only that historian will have the gift of fanning the spark of hope in the past who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if [it] wins. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious” (Benjamin, 255)

Nat Turner’s spirit is buried beneath the shouts and cries (Cone, 61)

It is a deep honor to be asked to offer a few words in memory of so courageous and clear a spirit of resolve as Nat Turner. It is an honor doubly difficult to measure up to in that my skin is white and my life circumstance therefore privileged with respect to Turner’s color and condition and the people whose struggle for justice he represented with such determination and daring that it presaged the only resolution of the institution of slavery white people would accept. War. And it is a war that has never yet ceased. And so my standing here today is not innocent. Continue reading “Whose Violence? Which Insurgence?: White Supremacy in the Mirror of Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation”