What Are They Thinking? Why Some Segments of Black America Continue to Support Umar Johnson

Even a cursory examination of African-American history illustrates the following point; leadership serves as the embodiment of people’s identity, political consciousness, goal structures, and desire for politico-economic liberation. There is little debate that Marcus Garvey was the embodiment of Pan-Africanist during his life, the same for Malcolm X during his entire post-incarceration period, and of course similar things can be said about Frederick Douglass, David Walker, Maria Stewart, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Ella Baker, and a host of others.

Most reasonable people agree that those mentioned above possessed the following qualities:

  • Confidence
  • Transparency
  • Integrity
  • Truthfulness
  • Character
  • Morality
  • Honesty
  • Patience
  • Dignity

I also believe that those who have witnessed the antics of Umar Johnson over the past several years, including his most recent meltdown that vacillated between a personal infomercial promoting his appearances/clothing apparel and a pitiful individual gang summit full of threats and insults, would agree that he possesses none of the above qualities. It is this lack of personal integrity that makes Umar entirely unsuitable to lead any movement, let alone one aimed at uplifting Black America. Ironically, the same character flaws and cultural dysfunction that sits at the core of Umar’s existence extends black suffering. Put simply, if logic and reasonableness, not emotionalism, guide our thoughts, there is no other reasonable conclusion one could arrive at other than character flaws, and cultural dysfunctions are the most substantial parts of Umar.

If we agree that leadership reflects those that they lead, one must ask this looming question, who are these African-Americans that have consciously chosen to ignore Umar’s character flaws and absence of a liberation plan? They must mirror the huge flaws found within the self-appointed Prince of Pan-Africanism. That is a frightening thought on many levels.

In all fairness, I believe that such individuals are well-meaning, yet desperate, in their desire to uplift the Black community from its historical have-not status. They quite simply have an honest desire to do something, anything, to alleviate the present suffering and prevent future oppression for succeeding generations of Black America.

Once this unfocused, yet unending urge to do something encounters a charismatic leader such as Umar Johnson who uses his knowledge of psychology to tap into his supporters emotionalism, it does not take long for them to fall under his enchanting spell.

Trust me when I say that the spell Umar Johnson has placed on the minds of many of our people is strong enough to get them to not only follow him but also eagerly offer donations to yet to be realized projects without questioning where their money has gone.

Shockingly, not even Umar’s public displays of ignorance are sufficient to awaken those under his spell. It is the casting of a powerful spell that is the only reasonable explanation behind the regular financial contributions for an individual who filmed himself articulating the most daunting examples of color politics and intra-racial attacks I have ever seen.

Umar’s emotionally-charged rant is the equivalent of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. angrily telling Malcolm X, “Malcolm, I’m coming to Harlem. And when I get there, I am going to kick your light-skinned ass. I’m Black Malcolm, melinated!!!!! You are light-skinned Malcolm. Every time you look into the mirror Malcolm, you see a white man!!!!!  Don’t trust those niggers over there, don’t you dare trust that light-skinned nigger over there.”

Any support given to Umar Johnson definitively proves that it is style over substance that Black America desires. In today’s Black Nationalist era the path to garnering attention with the ‘conscious community’ is to be slick talking, insulting to ‘rivals’, disrespectful to the esteemed tradition of Black leadership, and willing to find an inventive way to simultaneously tap into potential converts emotionalism while indirectly explaining that you “know the perfect place for Black America’s money. And it is right here in my pocket.”

I guess that it is appropriate at this moment to use Malcolm X’s infamous characterization of black leadership as “a circus, with clowns and all.” Umar appears to be situated at the center of the ‘Big Top,’ unfortunately, he is not the only ringleader in this traveling roadshow.

James Thomas Jones III, Ph.D., M.A., M.A.

©Manhood, Race, and Culture 2016


8 thoughts on “What Are They Thinking? Why Some Segments of Black America Continue to Support Umar Johnson”

  1. I often read a lot of commentary criticizing Dr. Johnson because I’m trying to discern whether he is just as bad for us as black church pastors. I agree all public figures subject themselves to criticism. What I don’t get is what the criticisms and sometimes attacks are about regarding Umar. What false information is he giving out? I have not heard anyone, who is critical of Umar, deny that what he says about public schools and the misdiagnosis of black boys is true. What I do hear is people attacking him about the money he’s trying to raise to build a school; the rant he made via video and him being intimate with a stripper. Is that it? Are those all of his major flaws? People are also quick to attack him for being charismatic. When did charisma become bad? Not enough black youth aren’t being taught how to enunciate and speak properly, let alone how to be charismatic. Do we really want to tear down a conscious black man over those things? If so, why aren’t we as hard on elected officials? We easily take what they dish out and we know they hate us. Where is the kudos for Umar’s black college & consciousness tour last year? He’s doing two such tours this year. What exactly are we going to appreciate about conscious leaders? Better yet, what expectations do we have or want to see in a leader?

    1. Brother Gray, I am going to answer your many assertions via a blog. There is much to be unpacked in your query.

  2. As normal you are on point I have never looked at it from the point of the people listening to him. I have noticed they are making excuses for him, of how it shows him to be a real person with feelings. As I look at the lay of the land as it refers to the leadership of our people, if we don’t step up further and harder our people will not be around… We are truly on death ground.. Truth has come to you ~

  3. I watched his Umar Johnson’srant, Dr. Jones and felt sick inside by witnessing this melt down. Reminds me of how some people use to want me to listen to him as if he was something special. I can’t help but wonder if they are still impressed. Thanks for trying to salvage this brother? By say he probably meant well, but no he did not! Only those intrinsically like him will see him as important and of course white types. He certainly created a see i told you for white america….

  4. If you don’t like him don’t listen. Last time I checked Dr. Johnson isn’t selling drugs, or killing anyone in our community.

    1. I most definitely understand your sentiment, however, if so-called black leaders can not be criticized, maybe they, and their supporters, do not need to be self-appointing themselves to such positions. The truth of the matter is that Umar Johnson — he has not earned the title Dr. — is selling something worse than drugs to persons in our community. He is peddling hope and capitalizing upon the innate desires of many of our people to make a difference in this world. The problem is that he not only has failed to develop any mechanism to positively impact our community, but also his charisma has taken much-needed monies to independent black schools that are in existence and struggling to survive. The most unfortunate aspect of all of this is that when it falls completely apart, we will be left with heart-broken and disenchanted members of the “conscious community” that will vow to never again support such an endeavor. If those of us who know better, do not speak against charlatans such as “the prince of pan-africanism” we are accessories to the fleecing of Black America and that is just not something that I can do.

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