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Black Leadership Analysis

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Dr. Umar Johnson

Why I disagree with Dr. Umar Johnson

Dr. Umar Johnson is a black scholar that speaks for the two parent household family model. He bases his theories in psychological defects caused by the absence of the father. One of his frequently used theories is that black people that do not have a father in the house will search for their father’s love elsewhere. In women, this will lead to promiscuity. In men, it will result in homosexuality. He also says that the black church derives its power from black women looking for a surrogate husband. In Johnson’s philosophy issues in the black community stem from promiscuity and a breakdown of traditional families.

There are many problems with his philosophy that I have heard repeated by numerous people in the black community. Johnson’s philosophies divided and ultimately weaken the black community. One, it excludes gay people that could be helpful in the overall movement. Two, it leads black people that are in traditional families shaming black people that are not in traditional families. Third, encourages hypermasculinity that is not conducive to today’s society.

DSM removed Homosexuality in 1973. Dr. Johnson as a psychologist should not still be treating homosexuality as a disease. Homosexuality, according to Johnson, is a problem in the black community and is a result and leading to single family households. He acts as if the goal of the black community should be procreation. Many people of all races decide not to have families. Many people of all races have gay people in them. If we as a community continue to promote homophobia we are only going to ostracize numerous black people and we will ostracize ourselves from the rest of the country.

Dr. Johnson does not hold his views on homosexuality due to psychiatric research. His views are solely based cultural biases. The idea that absence of the father causes homosexuality can be easily tested. Dr.Johnson presents no polls conducted by himself or others showing a statistics on homosexuality and single parent households.

In America in 2016, people are beginning to experiment with various types of relationships. Women and men are in open relationships or having non-traditional families. The shaming of these people only weakens the community. As the amount of people in traditional relationships decreases the “strong family” model will be less and less viable as a basis of black liberation.

All the women that are in non-traditional relationships are not there because they could not find a man. Dr. Umar Johnson does not make any concessions for a woman that is a single parent or just single due to a conscious decision. Everyone is not looking for the same type of relationship anymore. People evaluate all types of relationships and which ones best fit her personality. A woman can logically decide that she wants many lovers throughout her life.

It would be difficult to prove scientifically that a single parent household causes psychological damage. Other factors such as income, mental health of the parent, neighborhood, etc. would need to be controlled. Also, each case must be analyzed to see what options the mother has available to her. If he father is emotionally under developed, then a single parent situation could be better. All these issues need to be addressed and accounted for in Dr. Johnson’s methodologies.

Dr. Umar Johnson calls for black men to step up and control the household. He wants the “old school” model of the family. The “old school” model calls for a man to be dominant and a woman to be passive. Much of Dr. Johnson’s rhetoric sounds like advice from the 1950’s. These old models of relationships were discarded long ago. Attempting to artificially force them on people that know relationships are far more complex than this will not work. If anything it will lead to a form of hyper-masculinity that is juvenile and sexist.

This juvenile form of masculinity was on full display with Dr. Boyce Watkins challenged Dr. Umar Johnson credentials. Also, a person on Dr. Watkin’s youtube challenged Dr. Johnson on his plans to create a school. Dr. Watkins who has a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky asked Dr. Johnson where he received his doctorate from and if he could get a copy of his thesis. The social media battle is well documented and can be googled if the reader has not already heard about it. It ultimately resulted in Dr. Johnson making a ton of negative memes on Dr. Watkins.

Black Single Parent Households

I have been listening to many black empowerment pundits, such as Dr. Umar Johnson, and many of them talk about the importance of two-parent households.  Most of his rhetoric on family pushes the need for a two parent household. He conveys the message that single mother households are solely the result of black men leaving black women due to a lack of psychological development. I want to challenge the idea that a lot of single mother households are a problem or retard the growth of the black community.

   The first issue I take with Dr. Umar Johnson is that single mother households result from lack of psychological development of either the man or the woman. A single mother household can be the result of deep introspection. If a woman determines that she does not want a monogamous relationship and attempting to commit will cause enough emotional strain to detract from raising the child, then a co-parenting relationship maybe the best thing. Black people, just like all other races, are not longer sold on the idea of traditional relationships or the institute of marriage. It leads us to explore other parenting styles.

   The second issue I take with Dr. Umar Johnson is even if the relationship is the result of lack of psychological development, the most prudent course is to move from a single parent to a co-parenting relationship. If two people did not have the mental development to take precautions to prevent pregnancy, then it is not realistic to assume they can build a relationship and raise a child. It is much more realistic to concentrate on raising the child and work on the romantic relationship later.

Buddhism teaches that nothing is inherently good or bad, we arbitrarily put these labels on events to explain how we feel about them on an emotional level. With this understanding in mind, let us look at the advantages of a single parent household.

  1. Children learn independence at a young age.
  2. Attention from the parent will not change due to problems with a romantic relationship
  3. The relationship between the child and parent can become deeper due to a parent not being distracted.
  4. A single parent has total control over the rearing of the child.

The list above is just some of the possible advantages of a single parent relationship. A single parent household has the potential to be more stable than a two parent household provided the woman has a steady flow of income of support from the community or her family. A co-parent household and generate a similar list of pros, but the reader is smart enough to determine those advantages on their own.

   The most detrimental situation for a child is a single mother household in which the mother feels that she has to get a man for validation. In this case, a woman will engage in risky behavior and devalue herself in a relationship to gain a perceived advantage. The child will then see and mimic this behavior later in life. As a community, we must build each other’s confidence and encourage behavior made from a place of empowerment.

   Many of our black leader and the black church want black people to return to the way we were back during the Civil Rights Movement. They talk about a time in which we all worked together and had two parent households. The problem with this philosophy is that we are not the same people from the 1960’s. Our leaders must lead from where we are now. They must also see the good and the bad in who we are now. Yes, the crack cocaine epidemic ravaged the black community. At that same time, many black people benefited from government programs to educate black people and help us get jobs. Yes, we have black people that advance in society and lose connection to their people. At the same time, we have many people that work in the community with tools and skills they learned from the greater society. Admonishing people for not being as they were two generations ago only alienates people that could be a great help. We need to learn to love and accept each other the way we are now.  

   As a community, we should also look at the damage caused by admonishing single parent households. When leaders such as pastors, stand-up and say not having a man in the house will cause sons to be homosexual and daughters to become promiscuous they reduce the self-confidence of the followers in this situation. This mentality is especially unfortunate in the case of Dr. Umar Johnson, as a clinical psychologist, he does not reference any scientific data to prove any of these assumptions. There is no reason he could not conduct a clinical study himself to show single parent households are damaging to children. All his assumptions are anecdotal from his personal experience as a psychologist. Dr. Johnson harms people by putting in their consciousness that their relationship is in some way inferior. As a community, we must be more careful about what we say and how we say it.

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