More at the link. Discussion at Memeorandum.
My name is Ali Akbar. I’m a 26 year-old African-American small business owner and a tea party activist. I’m not writing to rake you over the coals in the way that many conservatives have done in the last 48 hours. Heck, I wrote a passionate open-letter refuting many of your claims already, but this is not that. This is an honest and standing invitation. I do believe that you are wrong in what you said about the tea party, but I would rather prove it to you than castigate you for your comments.
I also understand that your reflexive comments came from experience. You grew up in a different America than the one that I was blessed to be born into. We both grew up in the south, but I never saw ‘White Only’ signs. I’ve been called a name or two in my three decades, but racism has always been the exception in my life, not the rule, as it probably was in your youth. I understand your suspicion of conservative political movements. It is rooted in pain and fear and memory, and though I never saw the horrors of segregation that you did, we share that cultural heritage.[...]
I’ve attended dozens of tea party events. I’ve helped organize them, and I’ve even spoken at a few. The tea party is not what is often depicted in the news. It is people of all colors who are terribly concerned about the direction that America is heading. We don’t trust big government to make decisions for us. And we fear that the present administration’s spending is going to lead our country down a path to insolvency, much like what Greece is currently facing.
Your comments about the tea party have caused me physical pain. 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.