Dr Boyce Watkins: Umar Johnson and The Conscious Stripper – Here’s what I think


by Dr Boyce Watkins

I wasn’t going to touch on the issue between Dr Umar Johnson and a woman known as “The Conscious Stripper,” but I woke up realizing that this is an opportunity to discuss our perceptions of “black leadership,” the standards to which we hold our public figures, and how our personal lives might overlap with what we do professionally.

I give my honest thoughts on this issue without knowing what others might think, but for the record, I am a supporter of Dr Umar Johnson. That isn’t going to change anytime soon. In fact, I would say that the efforts by this woman to “expose” Dr Johnson are the result of the bitterness one might feel after being rejected, disappointed or abandoned in a relationship. But in my mind, this isn’t the biggest issue. There are other matters to address (which I hit in the video below), that might help us learn from this experience, as well as the public reaction to it.

Umar and I have only met in person twice: Once at a speaking event on mass incarceration in Boston and again at another incarceration event in Dayton, Ohio. His words were powerful, accurate and impactful. Anyone who seeks to criticize Dr Johnson should probably spend time trying to understand his message first. His mindset doesn’t fit within a model of White Supremacy, so he’s not your average negro.

I learned of Dr Johnson’s influence when I realized how particular his strongest supporters can be about people questioning him on any level. A few months ago, I received a ton of backlash when I simply went to my Facebook page and asked “where did Umar Johnson get his degree?” By the reaction of some people, you would have thought that I’d accused him of rape or called his mother out of her name.

I admit that I become deeply concerned when black people get offended because you simply asked where a person went to school. Even more shocking to me is that I’ve repeated a thousand times that I support Umar and that don’t believe that attending some big, white university automatically qualifies you to provide meaningful and relevant knowledge.

At the same time, we must NOT allow ourselves to live in a world where merely seeking information is deemed to be a threat to someone else’s agenda. You are rarely better off when you commit yourself to blindness and/or ignorance.

You can either watch the video below or download the podcast. Feel free to tell me what you think.


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