I’ll start by answering the question…… “So, who is Dr Umar Johnson?”
According to the great internet “Dr. Umar Johnson is a Doctor of Clinical Psychology and Certified School Psychologist who specializes in working with the parents of African-American children who receive special education and/or are diagnosed with disruptive behaviour disorders” (go to his website here)
My take on Dr Umar (from watching a couple of YouTube videos) is that he is an ardent Pan-Africanist and a supporter of black economic freedom and the sanctity of a strong family base. Although the issues are mostly centred around American experiences, I feel they absolutely resonate with anyone living elsewhere, be it in the Caribbean, in Europe, Africa or elsewhere.
During one interview (watch it here) Dr Umar discusses Pan Africanism he states that it is a political ideology and his interpretation of this is that all Africans (black people) are one family. Which I largely agree with. Dr Umar argues that being an African is more important than membership in any other group, so being a Christian, Muslim, mason, doctor, lawyer or whatever your professional affiliation may be (as these can be changed) come after being an African (remember being African is synonymous with blackness). Because this is one thing you can never change. And I would argue national identity (British, Nigerian etc.) can also be changed (via migration and naturalisation)
Dr Umar also argues that the challenges that we face as a people are a direct result of our Africanesss. Think about that for a second….
Dr Umar argues that pride and protection of culture are key elements for various people, he argues that black people have no pride in their African culture, black people are fragmented (for example: the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, debates around Africans vs. Caribbean’s vs. African Americans on the Grapevine (watch it here) and the north/south divide in Nigeria, the civil war in South Sudan and gukurahundi in Zimbabwe, the Rwandan genocide…the list, sadly, is endless!)
Dr Umar argues that Black people are the only people in the world who do not rally around our culture and do not use culture as a fence to keep others out who would not add anything of value to our culture. He argues that the Chinese in the diaspora are very protective of their culture, Jews, Arabs, and Indians also; but black people do not have that pride in their culture. We feel insecure about saying where we are from.
As the African continent is seen in the world so will black people be seen….
Dr Umar argues that people will get as much respect as their home land. So… Chinese people are respected because china is respected (the word industrious, hardworking, and Chinese food come to mind, ever noticed how you find only Chinese employees working in their businesses?) Jews are respected as much as Israel is respected and Indians and so on… Those who are strong pan Africanists are (arguably) categorised as racist but with other cultures you cannot set foot in their communities e.g. via marriage without huge protests and furore! You cannot take part in their religions, be involved in their institutions etc. but that is not considered racist (merely they have their own culture and we should respect this… from a distance)
Dr Umar argues that it is key to have enough assets so that our grandchildren and those after them should be able to benefit from this. (pick any Tory M.P; I will use Jacob Rees-Mogg for example. You will see that their family’s wealth goes back decades with links to aristocracy, those people have never been poor in last 100 years! That’s inter-generational wealth!)
Dr Umar argues that Africans fail here because when we are successful we think of ourselves and perhaps setting up our children, but it is when we have the vision to pass on wealth to the 4th and 5th generation and can do this, that is when we can call ourselves wealthy. At the moment, apparently, we spend a lot of money on luxury cars, sneakers, McDonalds etc and little on building inter-generational wealth. Well I for one cannot argue with that too much, I had a grandfather who was argued to be rich and respected in colonial Rhodesia which was a massive feat considering it was during the colonial period…but his wealth fizzled out at his death. But that doesn’t mean our generation cannot strive for better things for our descendants.
DISCLAIMER: this is an opinion piece, what are your thoughts on Dr Umar Johnson? Does he have a point or is it all much too debatable?
Let me know!