by Taki S. Raton
(Editor’s Note: This interview of psychologist Dr. Umar R. Abdullah-Johnson by Taki S. Raton was supposed to be run the first week of February, almost three weeks before the February 26 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot to death by self-appointed neighborhood watch person George Zimmerman in Sandford, Florida. But due to space limitations, we had to hold the story until –ironically—now when the public’s attention is rivated on the shooting and the coverup by Sandford police, which has touched-off a fire-storm in relation to race, racial profiling of Black boys and men, what our boys and men wear, as well as the right of citizens to carry concealed weapons for “self-defense.”)
The following interview of The Nationally certified school psychologist, kinsmen to abolitionist Frederick Douglas and a presenter in the renowned and widely acclaimed DVD “Hidden Colors,” Dr. Umar R. Abdullah-Johnson was jointly interviewed recently by this writer and First Work multimedia producer Warren Muhammad of the Final Call Newspaper.
As part of a national tour, Dr. Johnson was on a three-day lecture schedule in Chicago speaking to educators and community audiences on the “Psycho-Academic War Against Black Boys.”
The following comments were recorded on the third day of this engagement on January 26, following his presentation to Chicago Public School social workers at the South Loop Hotel.
Questions were selected from a wide range of published articles by Dr. Johnson. Appreciation is extended to Chicago’s Black Star Project for arranging this interview.
Raton: How have Black parents and adults become so desensitized to the pain of our children, particularly our boys?
Dr. Johnson: One of the biggest reasons or ways that desensitization has taken place is by way of the massive indoctrination of Black parents with the belief that the system has the best interest of their children at heart. Many black parents especially mothers find it difficult to understand that there is a psycho-academic war against Black children in general and Black boys in particular.
I think that the menticide of the Black parent is actually making them an active participant in the mis-education and extermination of their children because they are finding it difficult to believe that society would be determined to marginalize and harm an entire generation of children. And unfortunately, until they come to the realization that that is exactly what is happening to their sons and daughters, it is going to be difficult to reverse the carnage because children generally cannot protect and fend for themselves.
They need their communities and their families to do that for them. So without the community and the family as a protective safeguard for the youth, I think that it will become eminently conclusive that one day there will be no more Black youth.
(“Mentacide” as labeled by Dr. Bobby Wright in 1985 is the deliberate and systematic destruction of a group’s mind and their unique way of life knowing, life thinking, and life being.)
Raton: How does the five-stage cycle of “Institutional Repression” ultimately place Black males on the path of incarceration?
Dr. Johnson: I have discovered in my work, in my research and particularly in my own experience as a psychologist and as an educator that the five stages that ever so increasingly large numbers of our Black boys are now moving through during their short life span takes them from birth to a premature extermination by the age of 25.
The first stage in the psycho-academic holocaust against Black boys is mis-education. Mis-education has three goals. The first is to teach the Black male child to hate himself. That’s most important.
The second is to teach the Black boy to love White culture. The third is to “special educate” the Black males and the fourth is to effeminize and homosexualize the Black male child.
Now the effiminization and homosexualization is an over-arching goal of public education. It is the job of the White middle-class teacher to break the Black male’s spirit; to psychologically emasculate him so that he simply acquiesces into the oppression that the society has in store for him.
And I always say that it is going to be difficult to rescue the effiminization of Black boys as long as their education is in the hands of White women.
Now, if a White female teacher is not successful in breaking his spirit, we then go to stage two which is the psycho-tropic medicalization of Black boys.
That is the deliberate usage of psychological chemicals to induce a submission to the American social order. And so the use of Risperdal, Adderall and the list goes on. These chemicals are used to do to the brain what you could not do to the spirit.
So if the White middle-class female is unsuccessful in breaking the spirit of the Black boy, she then turns to the psycho-tropic drug cartel to induce the submission psychologically. So first, you try to effeminize the Black male child.
If that is not successful, you go to psycho-tropic medication. If the Black boy still is a “man child” and had not been broken through mis-education and schooling, you now go to juvenile incarceration.
So juvenile incarceration is the full fledged physical containment of the Black male spirit and the Black male threat.
You see, the whole purpose of miseducation is to make the Black boy psychosocially drop out of his own life.
Mis-education is designed to engender in the Black male’s mind a desire to not want to achieve. Miseducation stamps out all interest in learning.
Children by nature want to learn. Black boys want to learn like everyone else. But what they don’t want is the differential treatment that belittles them, that psychologically castrates them and makes them feel like they are less than human.
To put it another way, the schools are doing exactly what slavery use to do, which is to dehumanize the Black man. And so when we look around our community and we see Black boys acting like animals, it is because they were treated in like fashion in the public school setting.
A good example of how this works can be found in the “Standford Prison Experiment” conducted by a team of researchers led by psychology professor Philip Zimbardo at Standford University from August 14-20, 1971. It was funded by a grant from the US Office of Naval Research and was of interest to both the US Navy and Marine Corps in order to determine the causes of conflict between military guards and prisoners. What this study revealed was that people will act the way they are treated. You become the surroundings that you are subjected to.
Black children act out because they are being subjected to a hostile animalistic environment in today’s public educational system. And after they come out of juvenile incarceration, that’s when the reality sets in the Black male’s mind that “I’ve been lied to my whole life.
My mother and my father told me; my pastor told me that if I go to school and do my work most of the time, study for my test and past them most of the time, listen to what the teacher has to say most of the time, I will graduate, get a diploma, go to college, graduate, find a good job, get married and live happily ever after.” They found out that that was all a hoax, a big lie. And now they are out on the street and not allowed to go back to school. They have psychological frustration and alienation. They become irritable and they feel disrespected.
Our Black boys are not acting like this on purpose and it is really not a part of some kind of hyper-masculine personality. They are depressed. They are sad as hell, and they are in much pain.
They are dealing silently with trauma. But they are too afraid to admit it because many of them have egos that have been torn to pieces by White women, by their own families, by their community, and by the media. So to admit that I am in pain, to admit that I need help to them means to admit that I am less than a man. And that they are not willing to do.
Keep in mind that the minute slavery ended, they immediately began to build state-wide prison systems because they knew that they were going to engineer the education and economic order to eventually over time lead the Black man to jail which means, in a sense, straight back to slavery. We still have slave ships. They now call it prisons. They just don’t sit on water, they now sit on land.
Raton: You alluded to this point yesterday Wednesday in your presentation. Are we finding in today’s mainstream society, and even in some notable segments of Black culture, that effiminization and homosexuality are actually being fashioned and encouraged towards both our African American male youth and grown men?
Dr. Johnson: The homosexualization of the Black man is the current Eugenics apparatus that is underway. Every 50 to 100 years, the American social order changes its primary strategy to bring about the annihilation of our race.
For example, in the 1970’s until the year 2000, HIV Aids was the predominant strategy of population extermination for African people.
Chemical dependence was also a weapon. Police brutality was a weapon. Mass incarceration was a weapon. And today, homosexuality is a weapon. Now, most people will ask, how can homosexuality ever be a weapon in the population control war? It is because homosexuality is a more effective strategy than mass incarceration. It is a more effective strategy than Black-on-Black crime.
It is more effective than police brutality. Why? Because in order for police brutality to work; in order for mass incarceration to be effective, you have to have a life that has already been born.
But with homosexuality, you prevent the man’s semen from meeting the women’s egg. So you prevent life from being created in the first place.
And even more importantly, the victims themselves actually carry out the genocide. And so it was actually going back to 1972 when the movement of homosexuality began to be developed and pushed. So what happens the next year?
In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association holds its annual convention where they vote that homosexuality should no longer by considered a mental disorder. By April of 1974, homosexuality was deemed normal behavior. That was only 37 years ago. So sexual confusion amongst Black males is a very effective weapon in the population control war against us.
Raton: Our children are born normal like everyone else and, in your own words, “can be successful like all other youth and will respond to love and proper treatment like everyone else.” Where does the process of Black male mistreatment, maltreatment, and mis-education begin and what form does it take?
Dr. Johnson: Mis-education begins at birth. The first day of life for Black children is when they become subjected to self-hatred and self-hating messages about themselves.
They are also receiving messages about themselves that is directly or indirectly coming from the dominant culture.
And so from the first day that they enter this world, the mis-education and the self-hatred training towards our babies begin.
It intensifies in preschool because in preschool, for those that send their children to preschool, this is the first time that the Black boy comes face to face with the institutions of the American social order where he is expected to conform to the expectations from individuals who don’t care about him, who don’t know him, who don’t love him.
In preschool and in kindergarten, for the first time, you are being given orders by people who care nothing about you. And on that note, last year, we had a record number of Black kindergarten boys – 4-, 5-, and 6-year-olds who were expelled from kindergarten.
Now, what can a 5-year-old boy do, what can he do to earn him an expulsion from kindergarten? In the 90’s, a policy of “Zero Tolerance” began to be implemented in the public schools. Zero Tolerance says that we are going to have zero tolerance for anyone who threatens or actually commits harm to anyone. Every school district in America functions under this ruling where they expel Black boys by the dozens for doing what – for reacting to disrespectful behavior by White folks and other teachers in the classroom.
Raton: Can you define for us please your conceptualization of “Mental Violence” and “Psychological Terrorism”?
Dr. Johnson: Mental Violence is the violence that occurs in the mind of an individual when they are force fed negative information about themselves and are then forced to try to obtain some degree of sanity as a result of the psychological poison that has been put into their mind. You see, the mind is like a plant. Plans are rooted in soil. The brain is the soil.
Every seed sowed must grow and bear fruit. So whenever you teach a child to hate himself, when you teach him that he is nothing, but most importantly, when you teach him that he will never be nothing, then he is automatically wrestling with himself and second guessing his ability and possibilities.
Psychological Terrorism is the deliberate external social engineering of the minds of Black boys to a point of self hatred and collective self extermination. What is interesting about Black-on-Black homicide is that whenever we talk about Black male violence, nobody puts it in a historical context. Mis-education is the mother of all violence. Economic castration is the father of all violence.
If you don’t give me a decent education that would allow me the opportunity to go and get a job, and then even if I have a decent education, if you don’t give me an opportunity to earn a livable wage, how do I feed myself and my family?
I am automatically forced by circumstance, not choice, to engage in illegal activity. Our sons are not out here stealing cars because they want to, selling drugs because they want to, robbing people because they want to.
It is because they are forced by circumstance through a lack of resources and I think it if trifling that you have educated Negroes, preachers, Imams, politicians who got the nerve to blame Black men for the situation that they are in when they have done nothing to help correct the circumstance and have only by their inaction aided in maintaining it. In 1970, what did they start doing in Black communities?
They started taking out the last remains of any factory based manual jobs that we used to work at and were able to earn a significant amount of money where we were a able to take care of our families and our neighborhoods. But now, when you go through Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, you see abandoned factories that have been converted into luxury apartments that use to employ hundreds of Black people. So in 1970, a concerted effort was made to depopulate the Black community of any industries to eliminate the jobs.
When Black men cannot provide for their families that creates Mental Violence. Mental Violence automatically begets some form of escape to cope with it.
So in 1980, they dropped off crack deliberately to the Black community. No one can talk to me about a war on drugs. There is no war on drugs. There is only a war on Black men.
Raton: Why is it difficult for Black people to take responsibility for our own actions?
Dr. Johnson: Because we were taught not to. For 246 years of forced servitude, Black people were engineered to only care about the American social order and the slave master. You were taught not to have any selfregard for you or for your loved ones.
Another Black person was not any of your concern.
And so you fast forward to 2012, and another Black person still today is none of your concern. It is difficult for Black people to look after our own needs.
That’s why we gross a trillion dollars in this American economic system and use little to none of this money for our own benefit.
Black boys are catching hell everyday; being special educated, medicated, effiminized every day, and we have the economic potential to build schools just for our Black boys in America to fix this. And we don’t do it?
Where does that come from? Where does that extreme sense of neglect for one’s own children and even one’s own future come from? It comes from our enslavement – the deliberate, the deliberate teaching of self denial.
Black people are actually trained and conditioned not to come together and build something unique to us that would be of substantive healing benefit to our children, to our community, and to our future. No, you don’t see that happening. We come together for church.
We come together for the Super Bowl. We come together to gossip. We come together to dance and to party. We come together for concerts.
But we do not come together to build for our people. We don’t come together and put all of our vast knowledge together to save our people. So there is no wonder that our children are in pain, are failing, suffering and dying.
Raton: Lastly, how did it feel to be a part of “Hidden Colors”?
Dr. Johnson: It was an honor to be in “Hidden Colors.” When I got the phone call from co-producer brotha Ola, I guess that would have been towards the end of 2010, he gave me a call and said we were putting together a documentary and we absolutely have to have you involved.
So we set up a time for director and executive producer brotha Tariq Nasheed to meet me in my office in Philadelphia. That’s where my portion of the interview was filmed. He asked me some questions. I answered them.
I had no idea that “Hidden Colors” would end up being the hit that it was. In fact, I had not guarantee that my interview would even be used in the documentary.
And so I am sitting home one day and I get a phone call from one of my close friends who lives in New York City and he said I am at the movie theater watching you. And I said I have never been in any movies so you can’t possibly be watching me.
And he said, “Well, the ‘Hidden Colors’ documentary released today at one of the movie houses in New York and we’re watching you and everybody in here is going crazy over who is this Umar Johnson.
We never heard of him. We have never seen him.” So that documentary did a lot to bring me into the homes of Black people who don’tlive in the northeastern corridor of the United States. After “Hidden Colors” dropped, I was pretty much known everywhere. And so that DVD really helped raise the consciousness of Black folk, not just because of my participation, but because of every one in it – Tariq Nasheed, Shahrazad Ali, Dr. Booker T. Coleman, Sabir Bey, Dr. Phil Valentine, and Dr. Frances Cress Welsing.
It was indeed an honor to be a part of this historical sharing. And in fact, it is interesting that you asked me about “Hidden Colors” because I just confirmed by interview for “Hidden Colors” – Part II.
So the second week of February, we are going to be at it again. Brotha Nasheed is going to be coming to Philadelphia for the interview and hopefully with the grace and blessings of the ancestors and the will of the Almighty, we will be able to drop some more jewels for our people.
Raton: Thank you