Why Niggas With Advanced Degrees Hate It When People Lie About Having Them, Explained

NewsOne screenshot
NewsOne screenshot

So, I have to say. Although most of the criticisms about Dr. Umar Johnson seem to be valid, the one that makes me feel a certain way is how hard some of you degreed niggas are going in on his supposed lack of a doctorate. It seems elitist and classist; as if only a Black person with those credentials is allowed a platform.


Hmm. I can actually see how it might seem that way, as geographically incorrect Africa medallion soaked in Thunderbird with sentience "Dr." Umar Johnson's claim that he forgot to renew his PhD paperwork was met with unparalleled glee and mirth. Niggas had more fun with that than we do at Six Flags.

But that's more about the fact that it exposed his particular convergence of falsehoods than any sort of classism and anti-Blackness.

Eh. Maybe your claims would be more valid if it weren't true that these same jokes at Johnson's expense were made from your iPhones and Macbooks (created by college dropout Steve Jobs) and published on Facebook (created by college dropout Mark Zuckerberg). I guess its only cool when White dudes don't have the degrees.

You're still missing the point. It's not about whether Johnson has one. There are tons of laudable and respect-worthy niggas sans degrees. Jesus, for instance, didn't even have a GED. And it's not like degrees are some automatic dispenser of wisdom. It issue is that he lied — and still continues to lie — about having a PhD. And that the lie was conceived out of the same bucket of swirling and swindling fuckshit that his mythical connection to Frederick Douglass and his claims that he's the world's most requested scholar were born out of. His life is a microwave-friendly tray of lie manicotti, and the false degrees are just the cheese.

This makes sense, but it still doesn't explain why some of y'all are going so hard on that.

Well, Black people who did manage to earn an advanced degree know that shit wasn't easy. They remember the years devoted to school; the countless hours studying and editing and experimenting and writing and submitting. They remember the myriad roadblocks in their way. The schools in the middle of fucking nowhere they may have had to attend. The blatantly racist classmates. The blatantly racist faculty and advisers they may have had to prove themselves to. The rejections of their theories and work; the doubts of their work ethics and intelligence; the relentless self-doubting and questioning if they should just quit school and get a "real job." The student loans still chasing them around; attached to them like a fart stuck to a cheap blouse. The disrespectful post-degree job offers.


And so, after dealing with all of that, it's not hard to see why they'd be especially harsh towards someone who rolls up like "Yup. I got one of them degrees too. We're degree twinsies!"

Also, its not just about degrees. Like, imagine if you were a fireman. And you went through the grueling mental and physical training necessary to be one. And you're out there risking your life and shit to fight fires.


And then one weekend you go to a BBQ. And the fire on the grill gets too hot. And someone takes a bucket of water and splashes it on the grill. And then that person decides to get a fireman's Halloween costume from Party City, and starts calling himself a fireman. Even starts going on panels with the costume to talk about fire. And then people on Facebook listen to his speeches, and start saying things like "This dude knows everything about fire! He's a motherfuckin Fire Maven!" And then he starts calling himself The World's Most Requested Fireman, and starts a GoFundme to finance his own fire station.

And then, as a response to a friend lauding his fire genius and fire bravery, you say, "Well, actually…he's not really a fireman." And then you get accused of being a fire coon by his followers.


You'd feel a certain way about that, right?

I guess so.


Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



But who mans dis, tho? "Not ours!", says Pink Panther. "Not ours!", says Pepto Bismol. Why Sammy, why?!