Published September 29, 2011
Ali Akbar, a 26-year-old black small business owner who is one of the original national Tea Party organizers, wrote an open letter to the Academy-Award winning performer, who is African American, inviting him to a Tea Party in Tennessee, the place of Freeman’s birth, or any location in the country, to prove his opinion is wrong.
“Your comments about the Tea Party have caused me physical pain,” Akbar wrote. “You’ve rekindled the old painful paradigm of Uncle Tom – that any black man who votes Republican is some kind of sellout. It’s not true. I work hard, pay my taxes, love Jesus, and I’m good to my family and community. In effect, your comments have stereotyped an entire group of people. And I know in my soul that you must regret that on some level.”
Representatives for Freeman could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Freeman told CNN last Friday that he believes the Tea Party is driven by racism.
“Their stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Obama only serves one term,” Freeman told Piers Morgan. “What underlines that? ‘Screw the country. We’re going to whatever we can to get this black man outta here.' ”
Freeman rejected Morgan’s suggestion that race wasn’t a factor.
“It is a racist thing,” he said, later adding that the Tea Party agenda “just shows the weak, dark, underside of America. We’re supposed to be better than that.”
Black businessman Herman Cain, a Tea Party favorite who is running for the GOP presidential nomination, told Fox News on Saturday that he doubts Freeman has ever been to a Tea Party event, like most people who criticize the movement as racist.
“I just think it’s sad that they’re so short-sighted in really understanding what the whole Tea Party citizen movement is all about,” he told Neil Cavuto. “I’m not offended by it because it doesn’t slow down my momentum. It doesn’t slow down the reaction that I get from people.”
Cain went on to win a surprise victory in Florida’s straw poll, earning 37 percent of the vote and catapulting him into the top tier of the race. A Fox News poll released Wednesday shows Cain’s support has nearly tripled among GOP primary voters to 17 percent, up from 6 percent before the three debates this month. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney topped the poll with 23 percent and Texas Gov. Rick Perry garnered 19 percent.
Gov. Deval Patrick, the first black governor of Massachusetts, said it’s not clear to him that racism is motivating the Tea Party.
“I can tell you that it’s clear from the evidence that the, ‘To heck with the interests of the common good, whatever we need to do to derail this presidency,’ has characterized some if not all Tea Party behavior in the United States. There’s no doubt about it,” he told a local Boston radio show, according to the Boston Globe.
But when pressed if racism was at play, Patrick said, “I don’t know. I’ve told you before that one of the curses of racism in this country is that you’re always asking yourself if the stuff that goes wrong is on account of race. I hope it’s not.”
Akbar said in his letter that he decided to reach out to Freeman not to change his political views but to urge him to think most positively about his fellow Americans.