Umar Johnson blessed social media with an appearance on Labor Day to offer an explanation of why the school for Black boys that he raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for years ago has never been built.
The good doctor placed at least part of the blame for the lack of construction on his would-be Frederick Douglas Marcus Garvey Academy (FDMG) on the way he says Black people spend their money. For example, he said during the rant on Instagram on Monday that Black people spend $19 million annually on grits. Specifically, grits made and sold by the Quaker Oats company.
Johnson could have been citing NewsOne’s report on Black buying power that referenced how much money Black people in America spend on so-called “soul food,” including the $19 million on grits and “Louisiana Fish Fry ($11 million); Glory Greens (frozen and fresh, $9.5 million combined) and Jay’s Potato Chips (nearly $2.7 million).”
It was in that context that Johnson asked his followers, “can I have your grit money for one year?” Give me your grit money for one year and I will build 10 schools across this country.”
He continued: “Give me your Quaker grits. No more grits for one year. Can we sacrifice our grits for one year?”
After repeating the “$19 million” figure in apparent disbelief, Johnson kept on.
“I don’t want your Louis bag money, I don’t want your Mercedes money, I don’t want your weave, perm, haircut, Air Jordan, Timberland money — give me your grits!” he implored before getting to the heart of his point: “We spent $19 million on grits and I don’t have enough money to renovate the Garvey building.”
Watch the video below.
A quick search on social media shows there is still interest in the good doctor, especially as it relates to the claim that he accepted (read: not stole) hundreds of thousands of dollars (other rumors say as much as $1 million) in donations for the construction of a school for Black boys that he seemingly never intended to build. For the record, he has insisted otherwise, as shown during the epic episode of NewsOne Now with Roland Martin from two summers ago.
Black Enterprise reported in 2014 that Johnson launched an initiative to fund an all-Black boys school. At the time, Johnson said he was gaming to raise $5 million to buy “St. Paul’s College, an HBCU in Lawrenceville, Virginia, and convert it into a boarding school for young African American boys.”
Five years later, Johnson announced in a video that he had finally raised the funds to buy property in Wilmington, Delaware, to house the FCMG Academy.
However, Johnson said in his Labor Day video that he still needed money for the “renovation” of FDMG Academy. He said he already has “the architectural plan” but still needs money to pay for “the electrician and HVAC and the fire alarm and the sprinkler company.”
Johnson ended the spiel with a pitch for his followers to donate to the school’s CashApp.
“Make a Labor Day donation for the renovation of the Marcus Garvey building,” Johnson said. “Let’s get it done.”
Johnson’s pitch to his followers may not end with them donating to him, but statistics show it was worth a shot. Yes, Black folks account for more than $1 trillion in spending annually, but it’s not all selfish consumerism on the part of the Black dollar. A study from 2012 revealed that African Americans donate a larger share of their income to charities than any other group in the nation. However, judging from the social media ridicule of Johnson, it’s doubtful that generosity will extend to him this time around.