Firefighters’ packed hall awaits Dr. Umar Johnson’s delayed presentation
by Taki S. Raton
I have to admit that I have never experienced anything like this before. I have of course heard of these things happening at popular culture concerts, but not at a Pan African Nationalist presentation gathering.
But then again, one should not be surprised when the presenter is none other than the internationally acclaimed lecturer, nationally certified school psychologist and now author, Dr. Umar Abdullah Johnson.
When I arrived at the Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters Hall, 7717 West Good Hope Road shortly before the April 11 6 p.m. start time, over 300 people were already seated and eagerly awaiting Dr. Johnson’s arrival. But at 6:30 p.m., event co-organizer Oshi Adelabu announced that his flight was delayed and he would be nearly two-hours behind schedule.
Upon his arrival at 9 p.m., still upwards of 270 people were patiently seated in anticipation of his message for that evening. Bro. Oshi, within the interim, invited community organization reps to come to the microphone and share with attendees’ news of planned activities during the spring and summer months. Vendors and food selections were additionally available on site.
“I brought my son to see Dr. Umar,” says Julia Williams, an elementary teacher in the private school sector. “We watched Hidden Colors parts 1 and 2 together and after reading about his coming to Milwaukee in the paper, we both were very excited about coming here tonight. We won’t mind the wait. His lecture will be well worth it,” she adds after hearing Oshi’s update on the delay.
Cheryl Blue, co-planner for Dr. Johnson’s visit said that when she heard that his flight was delayed, “I was devastated because I thought we would have to cancel the event this evening and that all of our hard work would be in vain.”
She adds, “However, the people waited until 9 p.m. for him to take the microphone. That speaks volumes to Dr. Umar’s ability to touch the hearts and minds of the people. He represents a new breed of leadership in the Black community. The days of marching in the streets and begging the government to do for us what we must do for ourselves are over. The days of leaning of religion as a crutch are over. Black people are in an absolute crisis in America, and it is time for pro-active, non-compromising, fearless, spiritual, and solution oriented leadership. Dr. Umar Johnson is the embodiment of that leadership.”
A blood relative of Frederick Douglas, the great Black abolitionist and orator, the 38-year-old is considered to be one of the most popular national faces and voices focusing on the proper education and development of African American children. This would be his fourth invitational visit to Milwaukee.
Dr. Johnson’s 9 p.m. presentation opening would jump off a two-day whirlwind 4 venue Thursday and Friday schedule. On Friday morning, he spoke to a room of 28 students at Transitions High School, 2610 West North Avenue, followed by a Parent Only Workshop from 1 to 4 p.m. at Readers Choice Book Store, 1950 North Martin Luther King Drive, to address 50 pre-registered parents on his recently released first book, “The Psycho-Academic Holocaust – The Special Education and ADHD War Against Black Boys.” A standing room only meet-and-greet audience was then awaiting his arrival at the 6 to 8 p.m. Coffee Makes You Black, 2803 North Teutonia Avenue. A book signing followed a brief power-point presentation at Coffee on liberators and freedom fighters.
Themed “White Supremacy’s New Clothing: The Myth of A Post-Racial America,” Dr. Johnson’s two-hour presentation on Thursday evening was designed to lend some exact numbers to determine, in his words, “whether or not Obama is making a difference, not just Obama, because it is not just about him, but whether or not we are making enough progress in America as we ourselves claim that we have since slavery and/or since the civil rights movement.”
He noted that he came up with the idea for this presentation because he saw, “that a lot of our people are being brainwashed and hoodwinked by the illusion of inclusion and the mislead idea of progress.”
His statistics included comparisons of Black and White households, poverty, education, the status of children living in poverty, crime, imprisonment rates, adult lifespan, infant mortality rates, Aids to mention a few.
In summary overview, there was no indication that civil rights have equaled the playing field for African Americans as of 2013. The Hidden Colors series cast member shared that the average Black married household in America for example has a take home pay of $45,000 as compared to a $52,000 take home for Whites and that female headed Black homes take home pay is $17,000 annually versus $25,000 for the White female headed household. The average Black single man may make $17,000 a year while the take home pay annually for the single White male would be upwards of $25,000.
Single Black women may top out at $13,000 as compared to $15,000 for the single White woman. These numbers, he cautions, do not include the unemployed or incarcerated African Americans. To add these categories would greatly expand the difference he explained.
Only 8 percent of White people live in poverty. The rate for African Americans in poverty according to Dr. Johnson is 46 percent. “That means,” he says, “that you can hardly find impoverished White folk, but one out of every 4 Black people are living in poverty.” Only 30 percent of White children live in poverty, but 60 percent of Black children are living in impoverished conditions.
In education, the presenter noted that 85 percent of White people have a high school diploma or greater, but only 60% of Black folk have a high school diploma or greater.
“Now the interesting thing about the education statistic is that again, they do not specify the level of degrees, be they Bachelors or Masters degrees, and they never talk Doctorate degrees because PhD’s are almost everyone else but Blacks,” he observes.
In the area of crime, Dr. Johnson’s presentation continues to reveal that only 4 percent of White men will ever go to jail in their lifetime. That would be only 4 out of every 100. But for Black men, it is one out of every 4. “That’s absolutely insane,” Johnson remarks. The imprisonment rates follows crime – 1 out of every 4 Black boys will go to jail; 1 out of 6 for the Hispanics, and q out of 23 for Whites.
At this juncture, Johnson cautions the room in speaking of Hispanics and other populations that, “We as Black people have to stop fighting for other people of color. You have to stop fighting for the Hispanics, you have to stop fighting for the Mexicans, the homosexuals, or White women, because in the end, you are only fighting for the right of other ethnics and minorities to push you out of the way and take your place.”
He adds that it is very important that African Americans to understand this because it has been decided that Blacks “are now useless to the American economic order. “That is why there are so many prisons being built. You don’t need jails whenever there are a whole lot of jobs. The incarceration rate is a reflection of the economic order.”
Dr. Johnson contends that when other ethnic and immigrant groups stand up, they are standing on the civil rights shoulders of Black people and that we have “no allies,” nor do we need any:
“What we need is more courage. What we need is more commitment. What we need is more consistency. What we need is more creativity. What we have to be is unapologetically African.” He adds to this point that the Hispanics, the Jews and other cultural groups unapologetically identify with their own race:
When a Jew walks into a room, he tells you, ‘I’m here to represent Jews.’ When a Hispanic walks into a room, he tells you, ‘I’m here to represent Hispanics.’ Everybody loves themselves first,” and we have to do the same thing per his point.
His Aids stats were alarming. 43 percent of all people living with Aids are Black, 36 percent are White and 20 percent are Hispanic.
“If Black people are only 12 to 15 percent of the population, how is it that we are 43 percent of all reported Aids cases?” he asked. He adds that today, Black women from 38 to 58 years-of-age have the largest Aids rates in the world.
The original perception, he contends, is that Aids was exclusive to homosexual White males.
“So how does a disease that was originally perceived as being for homosexual White males become a curse for heterosexual Black women?” He cautions “Sistahs” to “be careful about the men that you date.”
Commenting on his new title which he terms a “handbook,” Dr. Johnson said both at the Firefighters Hall and at Readers Choice that he is not just talking about the problems with African American children, “I’m also giving you solutions to deal with it.
“Nobody else has ever done this before. This is the first time that this approach has been taken with special education and with the issues of ADHD, especially from a psychologist.”
He advises parents that they cannot teach discipline if they do not have it themselves: “Undisciplined children come from undisciplined parents. You cannot look at the ADHD boys and separate them from the parents because all behavior and emotional disturbance grows out of the family system.”
Dr. Johnson in reference to an earlier context in his Thursday remarks shared that “as far as spiritual work goes, there is nothing more sacred, nothing more divine than restoring God’s original people to their ancient glory.
There is nothing you are doing on Monday through Friday, Saturday or Sunday that is more important then what we are doing here tonight. This is divine work. This is God’s work, to put God’s first people back into their rightful place.”
Reflecting on this most successful presentation tour to Milwaukee, Adelabu comments: “What can I say? Dr. Johnson was dynamic and inspirations.
“During the two days he was here and the five presentations he delivered, he never said the same thing twice.
“I was so happy that Milwaukee had the chance, again, to hear from this powerful young man.”