Conservative syndicated radio host, Larry Elder, has again taken his talents to the big screen, this time as executive producer and co-writer of Uncle Tom, a documentary feature that is predicted to get controversial reactions because of its title, content, and message.
The film, which gets its name from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, unveils what life is like for black conservatives in America – as minorities within a minority group. According to Elder, the movie delivers a sharp look at “the grief that people who are black and conservative get for just saying that they’re not Democrats.”
Directed by Justin Malone (Undocumented, Hurry Up and Wait, The Bus Stop), Uncle Tom features Elder, former congressman Allen West, 2012 presidential candidate Herman Cain, TV pundit Candace Owens and activist Jesse Lee Patterson.
“The film really is attacking the way the Uncle Tom term is commonly used to demean people that have rethought their assumptions to the Democratic Party,” says Elder. “You’ve got people like Maxine Waters and the whole Congressional Black Caucus, all essentially saying, ‘Anybody [black] who votes for a Republican is a sell-out.’”
The movie also includes newsreel footage of prominent A-list figures as John Legend, President Barack Obama, Denzel Washington, Jay-Z, and others. Some of the black conservatives in the film go so far to make their point by wearing the “Uncle Tom” moniker as a badge of honor.
Elder insists the tone of the film is to encourage viewers to do the homework and educate themselves on Republican and Democratic platforms and see which party represents their values.
“You tell me which platform is the one that wants to give you choices at school, which platform is more likely to create economic conditions so that you get a job,” Elder exclaims. “Which is the platform that pushes victimhood and that you’re oppressed. And which is the platform that says, you are an individual capable of making your own decisions…If you work hard, stay focused, you’ll be fine in America. Which platform says that?”
National Action Network founder, Rev. Al Sharpton, who also appears in the film by way of video clips told Newsweek Magazine, he has little regard for the premise of the Uncle Tom documentary. “Republicans are against affirmative action, voter rights and other policies we support,” says Sharpton. “Black conservatives are great at getting on Fox News, but they’re thin-skinned when we respond.”
Former Congressman Allen West believes more minority people are standing up against leftism. He says the film gives black conservatives an opportunity to talk about conservatism in the black community. “They are starting to see the Democratic Party, and how their history has been the most damaging pollical party for the black community,” West said in an online interview. “So many people have come to believe conservative black is a new trend.”
A candidate to chair the Texas Republican party West pointed to black historical figures Frederick Douglas and Booker T. Washington as ones who lived by the mantras of education, entrepreneurship, and self-reliance. “When you sit back and look at history and understand the principles of the black community, the conservative ideal has been there for quite some time,” he said.
According to Elder, the movie took about two years to make and it was done on a shoestring budget. He came on board at the executive level after Malone contacted him for an interview for the film. “[Malone] showed me the footage and it was in black and white. It was very stylistically done,” Elder explains. “He showed me two or three other interviews he’d done, and I was impressed…And I said, ‘Look, you make me a partner in this film and let me help you co-write it, and I will raise the money. And so, we did. And I did.”
Adding Elder to the team was timely given that Malone had no clue where the dollars would come from to fund the project. “The money that I raised is primarily from people who care about the issue,” Elder adds. “These are people who want to break that monopoly that the Democratic Party has on black people. Those are the ones who are contributing money. And frankly, they’re not all that interested in a return. They want to make sure that the feeling gets made and it has an impact.”
Elder and Malone are pushing for a summer release – with plans to premiere the movie this month in Dallas. They intend to make it available both online and in cities where cinemas have reopened following the Coronavirus pandemic shutdowns.
While some may think it a bit ambitious to assume the film will lead to an increase in the number of black Americans abandoning one party affiliation for another, it’s been reported that the number of blacks who embrace conservative values is seeing an uptick even though they may still consider themselves Democrat.
“I think it is in the country’s best interest to disabuse blacks of the idea that they’re victims and that the Democratic Party deserves 95% of their vote,” Elder said. “It is in everybody’s interest to break that narrative.”
“I’m hoping [the movie] can have an impact on the (next presidential) election,” Elder said. “I love the style and I loved that it isn’t angry, and it wasn’t defensive. It wasn’t mad at people for calling us, Uncle Tom. It was, ‘Dude, you’re undermining your own productivity, your own progress by not even engaging in a healthy discussion about whether or not we ought to have some different ideas in the black community’…The film’s message could not be more important or more timely.”