“Why can’t we have a healthy discussion in the black community without dissenting views being denounced as coming from an Uncle Tom?”
This is the question posed by the new “Uncle Tom” documentary, said talk show host Larry Elder in an interview with The Epoch Times’ “American Thought Leaders” program.
Directed by Justin Malone and executive produced by Elder, “Uncle Tom” features interviews with more than a dozen prominent black conservatives whose testimonies are intertwined with the story of Chad Jackson, a black, Christian business owner who was denigrated by friends and family after he became a Republican.
“Why would you have a well-thought-out opinion be denounced because of your race, as reflective of a sellout, of somebody who’s an Uncle Tom, who wishes bad things to happen to fellow members of his own race?” Elder asked.
As a result of this phenomenon, “we’re not having discussions in the black community that, in my opinion, are healthy and could lead to a better outcome,” he said.
Is Systemic Racism in Policing Real?
The killing of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis officer, has ignited debate and nationwide protests against what many see as systemic police brutality and racism, especially in the use of deadly force.
“Most of them were there with the best of intentions,” but “they’re just wrong,” Elder said.
Fryer found officers were actually less likely to shoot if the suspect was black—“presumably because they were afraid of being accused of being racist,” Elder said.
A 2019 study published by a journal of the National Academy of Sciences similarly found no evidence of racial disparities in police use of deadly force.
“The reason blacks are 2 1/2 times more likely to be killed by a cop than a white person is the crime rate, which is substantially higher in the black community than in the white community,” he said.
In 2017, blacks were eight times more likely to be victims of homicide than whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also found that police killings of blacks declined almost 80 percent from the late 1960s through the 2010s.
Now, putting aside lethal force, what about overall police contact?
Studies have shown that black men are more likely to be stopped by police than white men and to be subjected to verbal or physical force. Fryer, for instance, found police officers were more likely to use nonlethal force on blacks, such as handcuffing them or pushing them onto the wall or ground.
But in many cases, such disparities can be explained by different crime rates, Elder argues.
A 2013 study by the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Institute of Justice found that black drivers violated speeding laws and other traffic rules at greater rates than whites. And it also found that 3 out of 4 black motorists said the police had a legitimate reason for stopping them.
Back in the early 2000s, New Jersey officials launched a study of the driving habits of black versus white motorists. They used a radar gun to measure the speed of motorists on the turnpike and a camera to photograph them and their license plate.
They found that in the southern section of the turnpike, where the speed limit was 65 miles per hour, blacks were almost twice as likely to be speeding (2.7 percent) compared to whites (1.4 percent). For drivers going more than 90 miles per hour, the racial disparity was even higher. But at segments with lower speed limits, there was no significant difference between black and white motorists.
As David Kocieniewski wrote in The New York Times in 2002, “those results startled officials in the state attorney general’s office, who had assumed that the radar study would bolster their case that profiling was widespread.”
The narrative of systemic police racism has dangerous consequences, Elder said.
“It causes young black men, when they’re stopped by the police, to become far more confrontational than they otherwise would be. After all, why not be confrontational? If you believe the man pulling you over is going to do you ill, why be cooperative?” he said.
“It also causes the cops to pull back and become less proactive, because they are afraid of being called racist. So what happens? Crime goes up.”
“We’re hurting our kids by peddling this notion that you’re a victim” of systemic or institutional racism, Elder said, “because it’s then taking time and energy away from things we ought to be doing.”
For instance, the time Asian high-schoolers spend on homework is about triple the time black high-schoolers spend on homework, according to Brookings Institution. “Now, what does this have to do with institutional racism?” he said.
“We get the connection between hard work and sports. We don’t seem to get the connection between hard work and success in life. This is the kind of thing that I’m hoping the movie will create a healthy dialogue about.”
“The number one problem in the black community is not racism. It’s not bad cops,” although both exist, he said. “The number one problem is the large number of blacks who were raised without fathers.”
Approximately 70 percent of blacks are born out of wedlock. And 67 percent of black kids live in a single-parent home, according to 2011 Census Bureau data that was compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Center.
In a 2008 Father’s Day speech, President Barack Obama said that “children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of schools, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison.”
“If you look at the proliferation of kids born outside of wedlock, it parallels the rise in social spending under the so-called War on Poverty that was launched in the mid-60s. Lyndon Johnson launched it with the best of intentions,” Elder said. But it had perverse results, “incentivizing women to marry the government and allowing men to abandon their financial and moral responsibility.”
In Elder’s view, many left-wing policies are ultimately counterproductive.
“Take the minimum wage. Study after study has shown that what it does is cause employers to defer hiring decisions, reduce the hours of people’s jobs, or raise prices on the very people who are going to be buying things in the inner city that don’t have a great deal of money,” he said.
Illegal immigration hurts blacks because unskilled aliens “compete for jobs that otherwise would be held by black and brown unskilled Americans and puts downward pressure on their wages,” he said, citing the work of Harvard economist George Borjas.
“When you call me an Uncle Tom, it shows that you have no ammo, and we’re not having the discussion that advances the best interest of the people you claim to care about,” Elder said.