“We had the best organization a black man’s ever had. Niggers ruined it.”
Denzel Washington, “Malcolm X”
The past month has seen a flurry of activity and downright scandal surrounding and concerning one Dr. Umar Johnson, the self-proclaimed “Prince of Pan-Africanism”. Johnson, who also claims to be a descendant of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass, is a highly popular and well-known name on the “conscious” lecture circuit, giving talks and seminars as far away as Rotterdam in the Netherlands, on all things Black & Proud. Perhaps the most ambitious move of his stellar career to date, came about two years ago when Dr. Umar announced his intentions to build a school for Black boys in Virgina on the campus of a defunct university. He appealed to the Black public for funding, his goal to raise $5M USD inside two years. All seemed well with the universe.
Until the Conscious Stripper happened.
Last month, word hit Black social media that Ms. Khym Ringgold, a Ft. Lauderdale, FL resident, 40-something year old single mother of four boys, one of whom is reportedly in prison and a “performance artist” – which includes, among other things, impersonating famous celebrities like Janet Jackson and is a staple at local strip clubs, posted a series of what she claims are text messages between herself and Dr. Umar Johnson which supposedly revealed their “illicit affair”. For his part, Dr. Umar released via his Facebook a statement giving his side of what went down, claiming that the whole thing has caused him to lose a $1M USD donation by an unnamed NBA player.
Both have agreed as to the basic facts: that they met last August during a “Garvey Day” celebration in Ringgold’s native Ft. Lauderdale; that they had a brief sexual relationship that took place in Philadelphia PA on three separate occasions in late March to early April of this year; and that those sexual encounters took place during the late night and at a hotel.
And that is where all hell breaks loose.
To be sure, Dr. Umar is certainly no stranger to controversy; he’s made enemies among whites, Black feminists and even other “conscious Blacks” for his many stances regarding race, Black feminism, Black women more broadly and homosexuality. Indeed, he made only one appearance on the front pages of A Voice For Men, arguably the largest mens’ issues website on the planet, because its leaders, namely editor-in-cheif Mr. Paul Elam, and managing editor and chief of operations Mr. Dean Esmay, felt that Dr. Umar’s strident Black nationalist stance could bring more heat than light. Nevertheless, he has a large supporter base of African Americans, who see him as a politically incorrect breath of fresh air and one of the relatively few Black men of his stature who is an open advocate for Black men and boys. This has drawn him the ire of Black feminists in particular, among their number Charing Ball and Feminista Jones, both of whom have taken to social media of their own to denounce Dr. Johnson. More recently, after bowing out of a scheduled interview with yours truly’s newly launced daily podcast heard on YouTube for reasons of “needing to be careful with who I do interviews with because people have agendas”, Ms. Ringgold then turned around and gave an “exclusive” sitdown with MadameNoire’s Ms. Charing Ball – the same Charing Ball who, one year ago, wrote a hit-piece on Dr. Umar for his aforementioned controversial views. During the interview, Ms. Ringgold contended that she actually dated Dr. Umar and broke things off with him when his excuses and other inconsistencies gave her too many questions to answer. She further alleged that he was “unfit” to lead a school for Black boys and asserted that he was not qualified to head up such an academy. However, Ms. Ringgold, who has by now conducted a number of “friendly” interviews in addition to the aforementioned MadamNoire, has failed to offer any evidence to support her claims as to the fitness of Dr. Umar to head up a school or that there is any grounds for fiscal malfeasance on his part. Indeed, by all accounts, Ms. Ringgold’s entire argument seems to stem from her being a woman scorned.
However, what this latest tempest in a Black teapot shows us, is that there is a concerted effort on the part of Black feminists – like Jones and Ball – to take ANY opportunity to tear ANY prominent Black man down who does not otherwise comport themselves to their own agendas. It is for this reason that I argue Dr. Umar is indeed the latest victim of Black feminists.
Recent events of the past few years aside, it’s an old story with an equally old set of tactics. Black feminists were behind the attempts to derail US Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas on the grounds of what would become known as “sexual harssment”, despite an utter lack of hard evidence that anything untoward took place on the job between Thomas and Anita Hill (plus the fact that Hill’s own veracity was called into question for her lack of urgency in reporting such a supposedly important matter to the authorities). That was a full quarter century ago.
Then, there were attempts on the part of Black feminists, like bell hooks, to derail Nation of Islam’s Minister Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March which took place in the fall of 1995. Despite the stated purpose of the gathering of one million Black American men on the national mall in Washington DC to examine the role their own actions have taken place in the state of things in Black America itself, Black feminsts were intent on charging Farrakhan and the organizers of the event not just with sexism and misogyny for “excluding” Black women, but also for charging them with scamming MMM supporters out of large sums of money. The charges and accusations, of course, were never proven or verified.
Black feminists have been after quite a few rappers, Tupac Shakur among them, despite again, having no evidence that he was indeed guilty of raping a groupie gal in a hotel (despite being arrested and convicted of the offence; how many innocent Black men has this happened to?) and the fact that some of his best known records were ones where Tupac extolled the virtues of Black womanhood itself, like “Dear Mama”, “Brenda’s Got A Baby” and “Keep Ya Head Up”. More recently, Black feminists went after conscious rap fixture Talib Kweli, for daring to disagree with the Black Feminist Borg Hivemind, in saying that while he greatly disagreed with rapper Rick Ross, he nevertheless was indeed a part of hip hop culture and life. There are many more examples.
That brings us to the present day – where we have just witnessed a massive smear campaign attempt against Bill Cosby, despite the fact that there were no evidence or charges brought against him for allegations of sexual assault and rape nearly a half century old. Indeed, Brittney Cooper, the self-professed “Professor Crunk”, has gone on record that the “court of public opinion” should be sufficient to “indict” and “convict” Cosby and that her thoroughly non-legal opinion should somehow hold weight in determining such matters. She and Jones have taken to the airwaves to further smear Cosby – a Black man who has worked tirelessly to assist Black Americans, especially in the area of education, giving more money and support to HBCUs than any other Black celeb or entertainer.
Even the President of the United States isn’t beyond the reach of Black feminists’ pernicious attempts to derail efforts to assist Black men and boys. Last year, Ms. Cooper took to her social media and her columnist spot at Salon.com to browbeat Barack Obama for failing to include Black women and girls in his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative; and even more Black feminists came to the fore just last month to upbraid the 44 POTUS yet again for what they see as his failure to check in with the Hivemind before moving forward with his push to do something for Black men and boys before his term in office ends in Jan 2017.
Strangely enough, Black feminists are MIA when it comes confronting real threats to the Black nation who happen to take the form of Black males – like drugs dealers, vicious and violent rapists, murderers, gangbangers and other organized crime thugs, car jackers and other local miscreants – or even to do more pedestrian things like organizing neighborhood cleanup efforts, which in themselves have been shown to have a dramatic impact on crime rates. It seems that Black feminists only get their backs up when Black men attempt to do anything hopeful and positive that doesn’t require running it by the Black Feminist Politburo first. As far as Black feminists are concerned, Dr. Umar’s school for Black boys can’t happen because he doesn’t tow their party line or his private life doesn’t align with their sexual politics. And that’s sad.
Because ultimately, the biggest losers aren’t Black men like Dr. Umar; it’s Black boys. Right here in my hometown of Philly, some 75% of Black men aged 24-54 – the prime age of life – are highschool dropouts and functional illiterates. Even worse, of those remaining 25% of Black men who do have highschool degrees, a significant portion of them are reading below grade levels. Nor is what is happening in Philly unique; similiar or worse results have been observed and documented in Detroit; NYC; Newark; Camden; Washington, DC; Houston; New Orleans; Miami-Dade county; Baltimore; Atlanta; Chicago; the list goes on and on. While the rumor and gossip machine that is Black America clamors on and as Black feminists continue their war on and against any Brotha they don’t much like, it’s Black boys, who will grow up to become Black men, will continue to enter a world they are hopelessly, woefully, utterly unprepared to function in, much less compete or thrive. And we all know how that story ends – here in Philly, despite a plethora of public schools closing on the watch of Black political and civic leadership, including my own alma mater Germantown High School, the City of Brotherly Love has recently erected a new local penal institution out on State Road.
I don’t agree with everything Dr. Umar Johnson says or does; nor do I share his “preacher style” of oration and presentation. I don’t agree with his views with regard to gays and lesbians. I find his “racial small tent” strategy to be tenuous at best, highly ruinous at worst, in a time when the world is a much smaller place than it was prior to the mid to late 1990s and the advent of the Internet. I think his focus solely on Black women when it comes to relationship advice and assistance owes more to personal bias with him having daughters, when it is clear that Black men needs such help and advice as well. Trust me when I tell you, I could think up quite a few reasons why I have real areas of real disagreement with Dr. Umar.
But he is among a precious few Black men who have the desire and talent, who wants to save the minds of Black boys and prepare them to take their rightful place in the world of tomorrow. And to tell you the truth, Black America needs all the help it can get.
It really does make one think about how the seemingly best of Black men get the most grief from Black women – in this case feminists – while the worst of us either get a silent pass of tacit approval, or outright laudable accolade.
With friends like these, Black America – and the Good Black Men in particular – certainly do not need any (white) enemies.
Recommended Further Reading: Black Men Are The Sharp End Of The Men’s Rights Movement Spear – They Just Don’t Know It
SPECIAL NOTE: Please don’t forget to checkout my new podcast on YouTube, “Obsidian Radio” – new broadcasts daily! Here’s my extended coverage on the Dr. Umar scandal:
Notes On A Scandal: Considering Dr. Umar Johnson & Ms. Feminista Jones, Part One
Notes On A Scandal: Dr Umar Johnson Revisited, Part One
Dr. Umar: The Strippergate Tapes, Part One
Khym Ringgold AKA The Conscious Stripper, Reneges On Interview! Analysis & Commentary Part 1
Khym Ringgold Gives Exclusive Interview To Dr. Umar Hater Charing Ball, Part One