Tag Archives: Umar Johnson

An Unwise Choice: An Open Letter to Black Men About Umar Johnson from a Sister Who Loves You

I am most certainly disturbed and bewildered by Umar Johnson’s continuing relevance in the struggle to liberate Black America. I am confident that you agree with my summation that Mr. Johnson is the most polarizing figure Black America has seen since Clarence Thomas. To some he is a breath of fresh air, to many others, he is a traveling con man selling hope for a better tomorrow to the droves of oppressed confused black people. Make no mistake about it, you either immediately embrace or exert extreme caution when it comes to this verbal wizard who possesses an uncanny ability to mesmerize black men. Johnson’s siren call comes in the form of seductive rhetoric that taps into their innate urge to assume what they consider their rightful position as “head of household” if not an exiled African “King” in the North American wilderness.

As a black woman, I would be disingenuous if I did not relate that the seemingly unending support Umar Johnson has received from my brothers is simultaneously shocking and offensive. For myself and the vast majority of black women, Mr. Johnson’s incantations for a return to the good old days when black men ruled their homes and communities with an iron-fisted authority that no one dared to challenge are eerily similar to white racists calls for a return to the good old days when a woman knew her place, children were to be seen and not heard, and homosexuality was a sexual deviance on par with child molestation.

Although Mr. Johnson’s supporters will deny it, their manhood constructs are merely a dastardly inheritance of tyrannical patriarchal that they were bequeathed by their white male fathers. In every way, Umar Johnson’s expression of masculinity is nothing more than a minstrel show of white patriarchal constructs.

It is time that the black community divests from the draconian position that one’s gender is sufficient for the leadership of anything. My brothers fail to realize that they have picked up their oppressors tools and dedicated their lives to replicating his immoral pattern of oppression within their community. The irony that Umar Johnson’s male supporters fail to realize that their movements to ‘uplift’ the black community are a haphazardly constructed garment that is held together by the anger of black males that is demanding not only silence from dissenters but also an intrusion into the personal lives of those under their reign. It appears that when black males’ steep emotional investment in Umar Johnson combines with natural impulses to take their rightful place as “the head” of everything they encounter, reason and logic are suspended.

The fact that thousands of black men would champion the flawed, antiquated perspectives of Umar Johnson is frightening as it reveals their failure to understand the inherent dangers associated with patriarchy and toxic manhood constructs. I pray that those I honestly consider my brethren can divorce themselves from the seductive emotionalism of this charismatic charlatan known as Umar Johnson, return to their senses and understand what Audre Lorde meant when she admonished oppressed people seeking liberation that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” What Umar Johnson is doing is not dismantling white supremacy, he is attempting to build a black version of it that will oppress all of those within our midst who disagree with his irrationality and inconsistencies.


© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017


“What is your Problem with Umar Johnson?”

I often read a lot of commentaries 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?

(Daryl B. Gray)

Let me first say thank you for this question that conveys so many of the issues and questions surrounding not only Umar Johnson but also larger matters surrounding ‘charismatic leadership.’ I am going to do my absolute best to answer a few of these issues in a precise manner. To achieve that goal, I have deconstructed your question into two smaller and therefore more manageable pieces for today’s response.

(A) What false information is Umar Johnson giving out?

(B) When did charisma become bad?

So here we go.

(A) What false information is Umar Johnson giving out?

I believe that you are on solid footing to inquire about ‘what false information’ has Umar Johnson put out. This is the thing about Umar, those who have issues with this brother are not particularly disturbed by the myriad of untruths that have emanated from his mouth such as the following:

  • His celibacy claims that were proven false by his interactions with the ‘conscious stripper.’ I think that most people could care less regarding what he does in his private life, however, what disturbed most was the presentation of a public Umar that does not match the private life. It most certainly conveys a willingness to advance a lie if it will benefit you; a dubious and dangerous character flaw for any person in a leadership position.
  • Umar’s claim to be a descendant of Frederick Douglass is yet another example of his willingness to advance a lie to promote himself and advance an agenda. This particular myth regarding Douglass is particularly offensive to me because he said it directly to me during an interview with an authority that would have made one think that he should have been named Frederick Douglass V.

Those who have significant problems with Umar trace their issues to the type of information that he does not share. At the core of the alluded to angst is the absence of transparency regarding the monies Umar has raised for his “school.” Put simply; there has been zero accountability regarding the monies raised, how these monies were used, the status of this “school” or any infrastructure that has been created surrounding the above entity.

It is this absence of ANY transparency that causes the majority of his critics to consider him worse than an exploitive preacher. In many ways, Umar is like a jackleg preacher in that he is peddling a path to end the misery and suffering of the masses. “If only you donate to this school, all of your problems will be alleviated.”

What makes these matters extremely troubling is that those who have chosen to support Umar with their hard-earned dollars materially are operating totally out of a blind-faith that is fueled by their innate desire to do something to help lift our people out of their multi-generational politicoeconomic marginality.

It is to that population of ‘believers’ that Umar owes transparency. My greatest fear is that when these ‘believers’ who have stepped out on faith realize that this has all been a charade, they will adopt a rigid position of ‘never again’ and will refuse to aid legitimate uplift efforts such as the already existing independent black school movement that desperately needs an immediate infusion of funds to continue educating African-American children.

(B) When did charisma become bad?

To address this issue, it is imperative that I separate the idea of charisma from an entirely different issue of “charismatic leadership.” Brother Gray, you wrote the following in your question. 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. You are absolutely correct in your summation that charisma is not a negative quality. I have found that charisma is a pre-requisite for leadership, particularly in regards to leading an African-American populace that desperately craves a well-constructed combination of information and inspiration.

I likewise agree with your assertion that “Not enough black youth aren’t being taught how to enunciate and speak properly, let alone how to be charismatic.” One needs to look no further than the absence of enunciation found among contemporary ‘mumble’ rappers, let alone the speech patterns and vulgarity found within so many of our educational institutions to find a reason to support your assertion. However, that form of charisma is not what is being addressed when critiques of charismatic leadership are advanced.

When charismatic leaders such as Umar Johnson are being critiqued, it invariably revolves around the fact that they are “all sizzle and no steak.” Put simply, they do not use their prodigious God-given oratorical talents for the uplift of the community, they consciously plot and plan to use those gifts for personal gain.

It is their charm, their rhetorical wizardry and phrase mongering that invariably enchants their ‘followers’ to do as they say, in Umar’s case this means donating money to his yet to be realized school as well as vociferously attacking those who have the audacity to publicly critique his exploitation of the masses, a problem that you will find among all charismatic leaders.

Consider for a moment, that well-meaning, yet naïve, African-Americans have been donating monies to Umar’s yet to be realized educational venture for several years. When pressed as to why any educational institution has yet to be realized, his answer has always been the same, “The people haven’t given enough.”

One of the most obvious signs of a charismatic leader is his ability to always place the onus for the achievement of goals upon the followers, such sayings are common among leaders such as Umar Johnson or any random prosperity preacher, “if only you would pray more,” “if only you would donate more money,” “it is your lack of faith that is causing God not to bless us with what we need.”

Umar Johnson has slyly concocted a ‘us vs. them’ narrative among his followers that detracts their attention from his failure to provide a single sign of what their commitment to economic collectivism and black-on-black support has achieved.

Umar’s followers have become so emotionally invested that not even his recent tirade and denigration {which he taped and disseminated himself} against a fellow black man is sufficient to break the enchanting spell.

As with all charismatic leaders, it is their eloquence, charm, and expert ability to manipulate the emotions and perspective of people who are seeking a way out of no way that is their source of power, not the building of anything tangible such as a school. It is the bartering of hope and a dastardly lie that he is the only one diligently working to uplift Black America that is the base of Umar’s hold upon a people who have so much invested in him that they will never abandon his cause as it will serve as the supreme admission to the naysayer that they were correct in their criticisms and condemnation of associating with a critically flawed, seemingly mentally unstable, narcissistic individual such as Umar Johnson.

I realize that I did not touch upon each and every issue that you presented in your interesting query; I vow to you that I will address the other matters that you presented such as “What exactly are we going to appreciate about conscious leaders? Better yet, what expectations do we have or want to see in a leader?” in future writings. Once again, thank you for the question.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

The Gospel According to Huey P. Newton: Why it is so Easy for Black America to Follow Umar Johnson

There is no doubt that one of the most peculiar developments within the so-called ‘conscious community’ has been the ascension of a host of leaders whose very embodiment betrays the leadership post that they have fought others to claim. Over the past forty years, we’ve witnessed the appearance of a series of charismatic leaders that would have in previous periods of our struggle been summarily dismissed before they ever mounted a stage and pretended to direct the fight for racial uplift.

Beyond using their charisma to captivate an audience via copious amounts of style without any substance, organizing skills, or vision regarding the complex issues hampering Black America, figures such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and most recently Umar Johnson have proven to be “all sizzle, no steak.”

Considering the voluminous vitriolic hatred that I experience each time that I address black leadership, it is evident that there is a large segment of Negroes who have yet to raise their understanding of racial matters to even a pre-school level.

I long ago realized that when addressing the Black community it is not always what or how you say things, rather, our people for some wrong reason are greatly influenced by who is uttering the political analysis and social commentary that they would otherwise ignore. It is for that reason that I reached into my book, Creating Revolution as they Advance: A Historical Narrative of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and grasped the following quote from Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton. Maybe those who have issued emotionally-charged criticism of my position on Umar Johnson will listen if the same analysis emanates from the Panther leader.

From my perspective, the only reason that Black America continues to entertain charlatans such as Umar Johnson is that they consider the African-American Freedom Struggle to be little more than a vehicle that should entertain them. Absent sensational language, unrealistic assertions, and slick phraseology, the ‘conscious community’ is not particularly interested in anything being offered; even if the offering is a reasonable blueprint that holds the potential to solve many of the politico-economic issues facing the community today.

After his release from prison, a disappointed Huey P. Newton realized several things about the ‘conscious community’ that are still relevant today. During a speech, the Panther co-founder realized the following about the audience he was addressing.

As I talked, it seemed to me that the people were not really listening or even interested in what I had to say. Almost every sentence was greeted with loud applause, but the audience was more concerned with phrase-mongering than with ideological development…the people were not responding to my ideas, only to an image, and although I was very excited by all the energy and enthusiasm I saw there, I was also disturbed by the lack of serious analytical thought.

Anyone who has spent years studying and seeking to execute the plans that have been laid out by African-American intellectual giants will tell you that during the past forty years the ‘conscious community’ has devolved into a population “more concerned with phrase-mongering than with ideological development.”

Although many will dispute this fact, the core of the ‘conscious community’s current problems emanate from its hostility to intelligence and refusal to engage classic texts whose workable liberation plans lay dormant inside the cover of a book; watching Youtube videos are not a substitute for reading. It is the alluded to pervasive ignorance and conscious decisions to ‘not know,’ let alone formulate and execute a politico-economic plan that explains the rise of figures such as Umar Johnson.

The gaping holes in the logic and understanding of the current ‘conscious community’ that are attributable to their refusal to study classic texts are the pathway to the rise of an “all sizzle, no steak” charismatic leader such as Umar Johnson. Were the ‘conscious community’ less concerned with phraseology and more concerned with developing a real path to liberation, figures such as Umar Johnson would be irrelevant! However, as long as the ‘conscious community’ remains committed to being entertained by slick-talking leaders whose lack of character, self-control, and modesty guarantees boatloads of drama fit for a reality television show, Black America’s problems will worsen by the day.

I wonder how long the ‘conscious community’ will remain unconscious. Quite possibly the greatest barometer of the ‘conscious community’s’ decision to remain subordinate will be the popularity of Umar Johnson.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

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



Without a doubt, one of the foremost gripes that I hear from Black leaders is that their African-American constituents are increasingly becoming unwilling to blindly follow their lead. Most are angered when I sarcastically respond to their dilemma by stating, “Maybe, they don’t consider you to be their leader.”

Let’s be honest about this issue, there are quite simply too many ‘so-called’ leaders on the scene. If you have paid any attention to UMAR 1this issue, you will have seen Black leaders jockeying for an advantageous position that will lead to them being anointed the next leader of Black America; we must never forget the public debacle that occurred between Boyce Watkins and Umar Johnson; to be more accurate the public battles between Umar Johnson and those that have the nerve to question him about anything.

On the surface it appears that the responsibility of leading Black America would be one that any sane person would avoid, c’mon you know your people. Apparently, for those who are able to secure even a fleeting moment on the Black leadership throne the benefits are lucrative monetarily and as far as popularity goes.

One would hope that those who seek the alluded to post would be slave’s to that blessing and curse known as having a ‘servants heart’. Make no mistake about it, a figure such as Minister Louis Farrakhan has the purest of intentions when it comes to doing all that he can do to lift our people out of what could be termed a generational curse. Unfortunately in today’s competition to lead Black America, Minister Farrakhan is the exception to the rule.

As I look over the present field of contenders to the Black Leadership throne, I see a host of individuals who are totally unprepared for such heavy-lifting.

If it were not so sad and ridiculous, one could have a good laugh at today’s ‘so-called’ Black leaders who have unwittingly proven their lack of worth by starting ‘Go Fund Me’ pages to support their JESSE JACKSONfanciful projects that range from the establishment of an independent nation located within the Continental United States — “building a nation within a nation, but without a nation” — through the creation of a Black boarding school that will serve as the “Black Star Line” of American education; the latter call asks for African-Americans to dump money into a project and totally ignore the fact that there are independent Black educational institutions in existence that could make great use of these hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been donated for the creation of an independent Black school.

Making matters even worse is that the vast majority of these self-appointed leaders have little real understanding of the path that our ancestors have traveled. If they had even a modicum of an understanding of the path our ancestors have traveled, they would have realized long ago that pimping one’s own people is an unforgivable sin punishable by death.

There is no doubt that the vast majority of the alluded to individuals have perfected the art of being ‘all sizzle with no steak’. Meaning that they sound great in front of audiences, however, when the emotionalism of the lecture dissipates, listeners soon realize that not only have their emotions evaporated, but also their money as the so-called leader is off to his next paid speaking engagement to entertain yet another assembly of Negroes who are desperately seeking something to believe in.

It is most certainly time for our community to divest from the charismatic leadership model and consider other methods of mobilizing our politico economic currency.

In my opinion, we should no longer follow these smooth talking Baptist preacher types or those who seek to mimic the cadence of AL SHARPTONMinister Farrakhan and turn our attention toward volunteering our services and donating any available monies to those independent Black organizations and businesses within our communities of origin. Trust me when I say that they could use your help regardless if it came in either a monetary form or manpower hours.

Once again, it is time that we abandon our well-worn pattern of following smooth, suave, and debonair racial con men and turned our attention, energies, and resources toward fortifying and creating independent Black institutions to do our bidding.

Trust me when I say, it is the only reasonable path forward.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016