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"Fear Of A Black Republican" Sparks Conversation About Race And The Republican Party

Angelina T. Velasquez |
March 27, 2013 | 6:52 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Photo courtesy of Kevin Williams and Shamrock/Stine Productions LLC.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Williams and Shamrock/Stine Productions LLC.
Documentarian Kevin Williams screened his new film, Fear of a Black Republican, at USC on Wednesday during an event hosted by USC College Republicans. 

Event organizers said that USC was an ideal location for the screening, given that the school is situated in an urban area with a dense minority population.

“It was nice to see a lot members of the community come out and not just USC students," said Elizabeth Van-horne, a senior at USC and the executive director of USC College Republicans. "I thought it was a really good two-way dialogue with people not just asking questions but giving their own input into the movie. I thought the movie provided a really interesting perspective on not just the African-Americans in the Republican Party but minorities." 

The film successfully sparked a conversation about race between audience members. Williams, who spent six-and-a-half years shooting the film, paid for most of it out of his own pocket. 

“We’ve had to be very selective because we are an independent film," said Williams. "My wife and I produced it ourselves, we couldn’t get any producers to come onboard because it is a nonpartisan film and because of the subject matter."

The film boasts interviews from Dr. Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, Michael Steele and many more prominent political figures and pundits who all shared the same sentiment that the Republican Party can only improve through reform from within and minorities are an integral part of this process.

The film successfully challenges the audience to consider the question of whether the Republican Party can survive without the black and minority community. It also raises the question of whether their reluctance to incorporate minority groups stems from fear.

“Our film essentially is about why there are so few black Republicans and really by extension other minorities in the Republican Party," said Williams, "but also what are the ramifications of that two party system for everyone? If I live in a city where the population is mostly African American and liberal, at the same time, how do we get the city to improve without competition? Because without competition the dominant party never has to come up with better ideas, never has to be held accountable for its results and whether I’m black, white, Latino, Republican, Democrat or independent, we are all affected by that."

During a Q&A immediately following the screening, Adam Abrams, regional vice-chairman for the California Republican Party, shared his thoughts on the direction the party needs to go and the vital role that California will play in this transition.

“California is going to be a place that the Republican Party has to make a stand. I see all of the news reports every day about how irrelevant we are and the fact of the matter is that we are increasingly irrelevant and this state is increasingly a one-party state. If the party is going to come back, it’s going to have to come back through not only California but through Los Angeles,” said Abrams.

For some of the audience members, the film was not only a conversation piece but also a lens in which they were able to identify with the key issues discussed.

“I actually really enjoyed it," said Caroll Ellis, executive assistant to Marc Little, who was also a panelist during the Q&A. "My eyes were opened up because of the values and religion and I knew that my values were Republican, but I never knew that before and at my age I never paid attention to it and just did what everyone else did. A lot of people in the black community, they just do what everyone else does because if you think outside of the box you’ll be like the pastor that stood up and won’t give out your last name. It just is what it is."

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