Umar Johnson is back in the news again, blowing up black Twitter after his recent appearance on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club with DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne tha God.
During a wide-ranging interview, the king of the “ankh-right” (because the word “Hotep” deserves better) railed against interracial marriage while dropping some jewels (pronounced “awl-turn-itive fax”) that resulted in an explosion of social media mockery.
Although black Twitter roasted him and moved on, the curious Caucasians and educated black people who actually read books instead of getting information from YouTube videos with ominous music featuring symbols of the third eye were perplexed, since they have never heard of this guy.
So, as an equal opportunity platform, The Root decided to offer this primer on Dr. Umar Johnson.
Who is Dr. Umar Johnson?
I have no idea.
But aren’t you writing this article?
I have never seen evidence for the existence of Dr. Umar Johnson. Jermaine Shoemake is the self-proclaimed “Prince of Pan-Africanism” who goes by that name. A blood relative of Frederick Douglass, he is a school psychologist who travels the country lecturing on the education of black boys, African culture and the need for African-centered education. He donates most of his time to raising money so that he can open a school for black boys.
That sounds incredible!
Indeed it does, except that none of the shit in that previous paragraph is true.
Wait ... what?
For starters, no one has been able to find any evidence that Jermaine Shoemake (or Umar—the name he gave himself) has a doctoral degree. Either he is lying about his Ph.D. in psychology, or he matriculated at the same educational institution as Dr. Dre, Dr. J and Nasir Jones, who achieved his advanced degree in 1999 and proudly proclaimed himself “Dr. Knockboot.”
After his Breakfast Club appearance, someone on Twitter did offer a valid explanation for Shoemake’s claims:
Why would Frederick Douglass’ grandnephew do this?
Because that was a lie, too. While it is impossible to confirm that no Douglass blood flows through Shoemake’s veins, in 2016 the descendants of Douglass issued a statement:
The family of Frederick Douglass has received numerous inquiries about Umar Johnson questioning his relationship to Frederick Douglass. There have also been questions about the legitimacy of his PhD and handling of the donations he’s received for a school he is promoting. We can tell you with 100% certainty that he is not a descendant of Frederick Douglass.
With that being said, Mr. Johnson is very careful not to bill himself as a “descendant”, but he doesn’t correct people when they refer to him in this way.
Man, that is disappointing. It’s sad that he had to create a false history to build a school for black boys, because ... wait. Why are you looking at me like that? Are you about to tell me that the school is bullshit, too?
No, I’m not.
OK, I’m kidding. The school is bullshit, too. After historically black St. Paul’s College closed its doors in 2014, Shoemake began a campaign to raise money to buy the property with the purpose of opening a school for black boys. People donated what is estimated to be at least $100,000 to bring this dream to fruition, but no one has seen a school. No one has seen a business plan for a school. No certifying educational organization has seen an application. No one knows what happened to the money.
On his recent appearance on The Breakfast Club, he told Charlamagne that he recently saw some land in South Carolina, but quickly told tha God that he’d talk about it “off air.”
What happened in The Breakfast Club interview?
Like always, Shoemake made a lot of salient points about interracial marriage, economic empowerment and racism. But like the huckster he is, he sullied his message with dubious claims, nonfacts and flat-out lies.
- Like when he said Chinese is now an official language of South Africa (It isn’t);
- Or when he explained how black men marry out of their race more than all other races combined (they don’t);
- Or when he talked about his six degrees (maybe he was talking about his thermostat);
- Or when he explained how “Buddha” is translated as “the black face” (also untrue);
- Or when he talked about how Frederick Douglass marred his legacy by marrying a white woman, beginning the sentence with, “Take my ancestor Frederick Douglass”—a clever sleight of hand that averted the term “descendant.”
So why do people listen to him?
Because, like the story of the angels who followed Satan to Earth when he told them how beautiful their voices sounded, Johnson is charismatic, charming and flattering. No one ever tells black people how beautiful their voices are, so many people are eager to join Johnson’s choir.
The worst part about charlatans like him is that black people’s voices are beautiful, and it is an indictment of America that a snake-oil salesman can sweet-talk so many people into believing whatever he says. There are people who take his words as fact. Right now, in a barbershop somewhere in America, someone is explaining that Buddha’s last name was Jenkins, and how General Tso was a South African leader of the apartheid movement.
No one would be mad at Johnson if he stood in front of audiences and simply said, “This is what I believe.” His opinions are valid, and many of them reflect the thoughts of the black community as a whole. But he undercuts himself by building his house on a bed of lies.
And he steals.
That’s why he is dangerous. Hypothetically, it would be cool as fuck to hang out with Dracula if all he wanted to do was stay out all night and sleep all day. I’d love to have a homeboy thousands of years old who knows how to talk women into letting him come over to their place. Plus, I’ve always wanted to wear a cape, and it wouldn’t look so out of place if I hung out with an entire crew of cape wearers who weren’t doing superhero cosplay.
But, like all vampires, what Dr. Umar Jermaine Shoemake Johnson really wants is to suck the blood out of the black community. He is a con man who rains slick-mouthed compliments down on angels so that he can befriend the black community and suck them dry. Even though it makes our people feel empowered, it is ultimately the worst kind of evil.
But just like when Satan sings a solo—it sounds so beautiful.