Monday, January 15, 2018

Dr Umar Johnson: In Defense of Credentials or Character?

"P.O.P.A Comic & Action Figure Psychologist By Day,
Protecting the Black Community By Night,
Sidestepping Haters..." -Dr. Umar Johnson
(Twitter: July 1, 2015)

   One of the perspectives I love most about my culture [of the Five Percent] is that we have NO LEADERS. We teach leadership, collectively, and that people should only follow to the extent of learning to lead. This perspective has enabled us to successfully avoid the religious trappings of being easily led or becoming cogs in a hierarchical machine. So waaaaaaaay before the inception of a so-called "conscious community", many of us were already immunized against the manipulative bulls*it we see today. 

   When it comes to the so-called "conscious community", there's not one figure head within that community who hasn't been exposed for having clay feet. From Natural Tehuti to General Seti, to Brother Polight and most recently Dr. Umar Johnson, it has shown me that people in general are still looking for someone to lead, not learn to lead themselves. Some people have argued and still argue that clay feet proves that we are all human and none of us are beyond reproach. I understand reproach because there is always going to be someone who will express disapproval or disappointment in us, even if that disappointment is because we got them the wrong Starbucks coffee. So yes, none of us are beyond reproach and that's just a part of life. I don't agree that we are all human. Some of us are Egomaniacs; text book Narcissists striving to make a living off of people's overtime. One important thing some don't understand about my background is having an Ole Earth that was a Social Psychologist gave me a unique analytical lens to view things. I grew up in a household with a DSM-IV where psychological and sociological terms like transference, OCD, self mutilation [self-injury] the Hawthorne effect and etc. were common language my family used to communicate in. My Ole Dad was sharp too and taught us about African cultures and he collected African artifacts. Both were a part of the Black Panthers and I realized once I got to college that one of the family games we often played was really THIS psychoanalytic book. I mention this for the purpose of pointing out where my perspective is coming from. It doesn't mean that I'm the smartest rat in the barn or that my assessment is the only authentic one. What it does mean is that this perspective isn't emotionally charged, topical or on some hater sh*t. Check it out:

1. When Dr. Umar was publicly exposed for having a secret relationship with the blonde weave-wearing "Conscious Stripper" Khym Ringgold, instead of taking responsibility for his actions he called her "a maggot in life" and blamed her for causing him to lose a million-dollar donation for his boys academy from some unnamed NBA player. Not only that, it's hypocritical to do this on the low while publicly condemning black women in lectures about their sexual behaviors and wearing unnatural hair. How he approached and responded to this situation taught me volumes about his character. If he would have been humble, upfront and responsible for what he chose to do I think many people would have looked at him differently. This and various other incidents show that he doesn't have a record of taking responsibility for his actions, it's always somebody else's fault, and he is somehow the victim. I'd bet my right arm, which includes my writing hand, that you cannot find one tweet, Facebook or Instagram post or Youtube video where Dr. Umar Johnson specifically apologizes for something that he did WITHOUT mentioning the names or actions of someone else. 

2. Where is any evidence of the school he is supposedly building? Even though this has been an initiative he has promoted and received upfront donations for over the last three to four years, he has not shown one single thread of evidence to prove its development. When questioned about those donations he has publicly berated people for even asking about it and to this day has not produced any financial records to prove what he's done, if anything, with those donations. Again, this lack of transparency and how he approached and responded to this situation taught me volumes about his character. 

3. He lied about not being informed upfront about being included in the Hidden Colors documentaries. Dr. Umar publicly stated that Tariq Nasheed didn't tell him the name of the documentary and only found out that he was in it after receiving a phone call from a brother who was watching its screening in New York. Nasheed published the actual email correspondences via his Instagram page to prove otherwise.

4. When I saw Dr. Umar lecture in Buffalo, NY he not only gave out his personal phone number to the entire audience but he personally accepted donations and told people to write down their personal information of a sheet of paper so he knew who the donation was from. He was handling the money personally, he had no one assisting him and there was no receipt book for those who donated. Some people he actually told them to write their name and address on a piece of scrap paper. This was not only unprofessional but an oversight disaster waiting to happen. Even people running for unpaid school board seats know that it's inappropriate to handle campaign finances personally; they run the risk of commingling funds or potential fraud. In any campaign, someone must be a designated Treasurer and all donations must be digitally tracked/recorded to insure complete transparency. For those campaigning for public office, these records become Financial Disclosure Reports that anyone in the world can access online. In fact, when I ran for County Legislator in 2013, here are a record of mine: Saladin Financial Disclosure Reports. Although Dr. Umar isn't running for public office, the standard of disclosure, oversight and professionalism is the same regardless of the domain. The fact that he wasn't professionally operating like that then, and even today, confirmed a few things for me: He wasn't/isn't listening to financial or campaign professionals or he didn't/doesn't have any financial or campaign professionals on his team. 

5. Speaking of Umar not having a team, it was also clear to me that he didn't have a Think Tank; a serious issue many of us often overlook. For some years now I've been consulting other public figures behind the scenes on how to best engage the public and respond to situations. For example, I advised someone on strength-based approaches with their team such as using the word "appraisal" as opposed to "evaluation" when it came to assessing their work. Many of us don't seriously consider or invest in this kind of professional support. If we do consult with folks it's usually just our family, friends or other people who, although they may be much appreciated and well meaning, do not do this professionally. We need that support and professional Think Tanks. When Umar was asked why doesn't he have a team at the lecture I attended he shared that this was one of the many downfalls of some of our organizations such as the UNIA, "the more people you have involved it increases the opportunities to have government agents in your organization." Although I agree that this has occurred and still occurs today, I also agree that the Self-Made Man and Self-Made Woman is a myth that keeps people collectively impotent. From the problematic results of his philosophy on not having a team I will that he now considers the importance of having the genuine support in areas he is not professionally skilled in. 

6. The last thing I want to speak on are this URL Battle Rap-like beefs. One thing I noticed is whenever there's some kind of beef inside or outside of the conscious community, the lower men go to insult each other those insults always reference the degradation of women such as b*tch, b*tch *ss n*gga, p*ssy, batty boy, homo, letting dudes play with your booty hole, hoe *ss n*gga, moist, f*ggot *ss, swirling and etc. Most recently its been Dr. Umar and Tariq Nasheed insulting each other like this. I find this interesting because these are oftentimes the same black men who claim to exalt black women. I think this behavior speaks to a deeper often overlooked psychological issue many of us are still dealing with that bubbles to surface when conflicts like this occur. It suggests that in our anger and impassioned defense of what we believe to be true, what we find most insulting, weak, abhorrent and contemptible about each other as men has everything to do with women. That is worth considering.

With all of this being said, I think that Dr. Umar is skilled in his area of expertise and is passionate about what he speaks. His skills are necessary! When it comes to professionalism, the proper handling of people, leadership in regards to management and delegating responsibilities, financial literacy and self assessment, he needs a lot of work in those areas. Whether the school he plans to build is private or not, professionalism, the proper handling of people, leadership in regards to management and delegating responsibilities, financial literacy and self assessment are all vital attributes that an Educator/Administrator should have. These attributes are what enable us to not only build and maintain institutions but also build the trustworthy relationships and confidence parents and communities need in us to genuinely work with the children. Many of the things Dr. Umar has done and continues to do betrays that trust or makes parents and communities not confident in his ability to lead. Not because they're coons or scared of the white man, it's just hard for some parents to see their son walking through the doors of a future school and being safe with someone like Dr. Umar at its helm. As an educator myself there are times I would like to say a lot of things publicly yet it's not in the best interest of my students, families or community as a whole. In the Five Percent we call that power of decorum "refinement."

For me it's never been about credentials, it's always been about character with Dr. Umar. That character includes being transparent, professional and making his word his bond about what he says he's doing. When you're accepting advance money or other resources from people simply based upon an idea you have, you owe it to them to be transparent and it make's it that much more important to be professional and a person of your word. I've known authors who have accepted advance money from people for a future book who now have a bad business reputation because they either sent the book months after its release date or had poor customer service or shipping issues. I never wanted to be in a position like that so I always vowed to not accept anything upfront that people would not get an immediate return on. This talk about character is not an individual standard I exclusively have for Dr. Umar, it's a cultural norm I live by as a Five Percenter and the lens I view myself and anyone else through. All of us have work to do in regards to intrapersonal development. Yet that intrapersonal development is ultimately for interpersonal development. It is our critique of each other in this developmental process, not criticism, that helps empower our growth. 

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