Actor Nate Parker is one of the more socially committed talents in Hollywood. Even throughout his career, with notable roles in films like The Great Debaters and Red Tails, one can spot a common thread in Parker’s work. He tends to favor roles that are strong and shining examples of black manhood; and the Virginia native is active in charitable work in Los Angeles and beyond. With the summer of 2014 being viewed by many as a watershed moment in black America’s history and a new generation assuming the mantle of advocacy and activism, Parker explained why he feels that social media has empowered young people of today in a way that no one would’ve deemed possible a decade ago.
“Twitter allows you to push a button and access and influence potentially millions of people,” says Parker. “And you can be, essentially, a no one. Somebody that people find interesting, for whatever reason, and reach around the world and influence people. It does wonders for the grassroots movement. That’s why, with Ferguson, the narrative was captured on Twitter and not on CNN. When I went to Ferguson, the biggest complaint I heard from the people with their boots on the ground was that the narrative was not being told in a way that was honest and complete. That’s why there was no empathy. They’d see the rioting and say ‘Look at them. They’re animals.'”
“They were quarantined and pushed out, the journalists,” he continues. “They’d block off the protesters from the journalists so that the journalists couldn’t even see the protesters.”
Parker believes that social media and a tech-savvy generation has armed itself to shape the narrative and shed light on oppression. But also, he feels that it gives the general public a bit of leverage and an opportunity to counter the mainstream media’s often-slanted perspective.
Parker expounds, “The Twitter generation holds the journalists accountable. Because you can be sure that someone will capture it. Would we know about Eric Garner today if no one hadn’t recorded it? What would happen if you hadn’t seen that man die on YouTube? The police wouldn’t have put [that photo of] Mike Brown’s body online.”