NEW ORLEANS ( Jan. 19, 2018) — “Protect your peace and your sanity” by removing yourself from anyone or anything that makes you uncomfortable, actress and author Gabrielle Union told Dillard University students and the New Orleans community Jan. 16.
“Your birthright is your peace,” she said. Check your inner circle, Union advised, because not everyone you know wants the best for you.
A large crowd braved dropping temperatures to stand in line to fill Lawless Chapel for Union’s speech, this semester’s first in the Brain Food lecture series. Union is on a book tour to promote her New York Times bestseller “We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated and True” and to discuss sexual assault and the #MeToo movement.
The next Brain Food event will be held Tuesday, Jan. 23, featuring the Rev. Howard-John Wesley in Lawless Chapel. Wesley, named by “The Root” as one of the top 100 most influential Americans in the nation, is pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va.
Union said she started the book after “one too many stupid questions on a wrong day, and I said, ‘Enough! If I am going to have these microphones shoved in my face all day, I’m going to feed my community.’ ”
Her book covers many moments in Union’s life, including being raped at gunpoint at 19. Union has been speaking about sexual assault for the past 20 years.
Union said she began to bring attention to sexual assault because she wanted to use her power and “give a face” to the issue.
“I’ve realized there are so many people in our global community who are suffering in silence from victim blaming and victim shaming. We are silenced.”
Union said she began therapy after the incident and urges people to go; she encouraged students to use student health centers on campus. Union said her first few chapters of her book started as homework assignments in therapy.
Union said,” I know as black people, we believe we only need Jesus and our parents,” but therapy helped her overcome both the rape and a divorce. She is now married to professional basketball player Dwayne Wade of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After taking questions Dr. Walter Kimbrough, university president, the event shifted to a question-and-answer session followed by a book signing.
Union said nothing has been as rewarding as being an author: “When people come to book signings sobbing, saying ‘thank you,’ that makes it worth it.”
Union, a native of Nebraska, moved to California as a child and graduated from UCLA with a degree in sociology.
She got into modeling to help pay off her college loans and then moved into television. The actress, 45, appeared in about 38 films and 30 television shows, including starring in “Being Mary Jane,” for which she won an NAACP Image Award, and films such as “Think Like a Man” and “The Birth of a Nation.”