School psychologist Dr. Umar Johnson visited the Breakfast Club on Monday morning and waxed poetic about a number of topics dealing with education, not least of which had to do his school for Black boys in Delaware.
Construction on the Frederick Douglass Marcus Garvey Academy has been completed, Johnson confirmed. That truth, he said, came with “a bittersweet report,” though: FDMG is still not open for classes.
Johnson challenged “Black tradesmen,” in particular, to offer their pro bono services in the areas of HVAC, plumbing and electric work so FDMG “can be ready in three weeks.”
There’s one problem, Johnson said: “I haven’t come across Black folks who are willing to donate their time … so we have to raise enough money to pay market rate for those repairs.”
He estimated he needed to raise about $300,000 in additional funding for work.
“If we had some Black folks who were willing to donate their time, the school would be up and running in 3 weeks,” repeated Johnson, who said this type of issue is unique to Black people and chalked it up to being “one of the psychological residuals of slavery.”
“If I were Mexican, the school would be done,” Johnson said. “It’s only because it’s us,” he added, referring collectively to Black people, “that we don’t take something like this (education) as serious.”
When pressed if this is really just a Black thing, Johnson didn’t shy away from that argument.
“It’s not that Black people don’t support other Black people. We are not used to being responsible for building our own institutions,” Johnson reasoned before offering an example: “If I was opening up a nightclub, basketball league, I would have the support.”
Johnson said he can’t reconcile that with the fact that Black consumers account for spending $2 trillion annually.
He cited “slavery” as the primary factor that he said stripped Black people of a “natural desire to want to control your environment and your destiny. Citing “ethnic nationals” who come to America, Johnson said “the first thing they do is look for where are we going to build our first community.
Black folks, on the other hand, don’t do that, he said.
“Our whole orientation towards life is different from other groups as a result of slavery,” Johnson added.
Johnson also specifically called about Black consumers when asked about his school last year.
During a live session on Instagram, Johnson was incredulous about how he said Black people spend $19 million annually specifically Quaker Oats grits. That prompted Johnson to ask 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: “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.”
It appears one year later the school remains in need of those same renovations.
There were reports that Johnson accepted (read: not stole) hundreds of thousands of dollars (other rumors say as much as $1 million) in donations for the construction of FDMG 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 in 2017.
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.
Johnson’s latest 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 about $2 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.
Watch Johnson’s full interview with the Breakfast Club below.
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