The original Spiderman movie gave us an infamous quote, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Why they decided to keep it out of Spiderman Homecoming I’ll never know, especially considering the fact that the quote is probably more relevant now than ever before. With a jackass o’ lantern running the country, a billionaire private investor running education into the ground and just overall fuckery from the people supposed to be in charge, it’s important to remember the responsibility that people who are supposed to be leaders have. But what happens when they ignore that responsibility? What happens when the "leader" spouts dangerous BS but is still considered a viable leader? What happens when folks are so desperate for a leader who "speaks their language" and tells them what they wanna hear that they ignore their many, many, many problems? Well, white folks get Trump and we get No-tep In Chief, and that's a problem all around.
I’m talking of course about the Prince of Pan-Afrikanism, the King Kong of Konsciousness, “Dr.” Umar Johnson. For the past two weeks or so I’ve been seeing people share Umar and his interviews up and down my timeline and I’ve been confused. I thought we were done with him when it was clear that he stole money from Black folks to build The School That Never Was. I figured we would hear his lies about being related to Frederick Douglass and end him. I thought he was over when he constantly tried to tell Black women that it was their fault that Black men became gay and that gay Black people (and Black feminists) were double agents for white supremacy. I just knew we would be over him when he went on a 45-minute rant about God knows what or when he made literal Hotepcon. At the very least I figured we had moved on to other trash ass “leaders” like Boyce Watkins and Tariq Nasheed, but nope. For some reason Umar still persists and people are still buying his fuckery. Even when people constantly call him out, folks still try to make sense of his bullshit.
What bullshit you may ask? Well, apparently Umar went on The Breakfast Club (something else I avoid because I hate Charlemagne, but that’s another post) to talk about how important it is to avoid interracial relationships, why he didn’t renew his PhD (which isn’t a thing, BTW) and some other nonsense. This has sparked yet another tiring discussion of Umar’s politics where No-teps like him argued that we should listen to him to move forward as a people, and people with good common sense said "Hell Nah". It got even worse when Umar got on Roland Martin’s show (Jesus this post is just full of people I don’t like) and had to defend his first set of crazed ramblings with another set of crazed ramblings. Like normal, there are everyday people all over social media people are encouraging folks to listen to Umar, take the good from his bad, and support this “brother trying to educate and make a difference”. I have to call shade bullshit and fuckery on that point. What good can possibly come from someone who literally believes in liberation only for straight cis Black men and no one else? I recognize everyone is problematic and contradictory to an extent, but to say we need to listen to what Umar has to say and ignore his rampant misogyny and homophobia for the nuggets about Black wealth and consciousness is like saying we need to ignore Trump’s xenophobia and misogyny to find the nuggets about making a successful reality show. That dog aint gone hunt and that shit aint gone fly.
I understand that we as Black people want a leader. We have been convinced that we need the one savior that is going to lead us to freedom like Malcolm and Martin did in the days of old. But that hunger for guidance shouldn’t come at the expense of literally half the Black community. There just flat out isn’t any liberation that doesn’t include Black women, Black queer folx, and the intersections thereof. Period. Anybody telling you that they have to get behind the straight cis Black man for us to be free is a liar and they mean you no good. I mean, I don't know about you but I've been to movement spaces. I've marched, boycotted, and protested for Black lives and I can tell you with absolute certainty that it wasn't the straight cis Black men leading the way. Are these folks who BEEN doing the work just supposed to wait around for the Umars and no-teps of the world to decide that they wanna do something? If they did we wouldn't have a Black Lives Matter and Trump would've won by the majority and not just the fucked up electoral college. This is where the responsibility comes in; we cannot accept just any and everybody because they claim to be a leader, we HAVE to be able to think critically about what these people are saying and where they are “leading” us to. Google is free 25/8 and there are hundreds if not thousands of Black folks in Black Studies and/or out here living that liberation-minded life who can provide you with the tools you need to educate yourself. Don’t let one nigga with a renewable PhD be your only source for information. Diversify your knowledge sources, I guarantee you you will better understand the MANY ideas about how we gone get free and you will be better for it.
But most of all recognize the power that is in information and the responsibility you have in educating yourself and others. Most of us have access to the internet and the diversity of opinion to educate ourselves, but not all of us do. Some of us can understand complex theory and can conceptualize history and systems of oppression, but not all of us. It is our duty, especially if you wanna claim this "woke" or "conscious" life, to be educated and think critically. You can't just take every meme that you see on Facebook or Twitter and say that's the gospel truth because 9/10 it aint. The bad thing about having information everywhere now is that everyone can share information, which in many ways makes all of us the leaders we search for. That's right, you from your social media feed are educating somebody and leading them somewhere, and you didn't have to fake a degree or steal thousands of dollars to do it. The beauty of the digital age is that we all can produce valuable information, and we can be leaders in our own communities and still be connected enough to help us all towards that goal of liberation. Knowledge and consciousness is a great power that allows you to see the world for what it really is, but with all great powers comes the responsibility to do the least harm with it.
So stop doing harm by sharing these no-teps. Let Umar, Tariq, Boyce, and all the others die of irrelevance. Please and thank you.
Who are some alternatives to No-Tep nation that people can get information from? What do you think of Jermaine Shoemake (aka Umar Johnson) and all this attention he's gotten lately? Leave your comments, questions, and concerns below and don't forget to like, share, and subscribe!