Psychologist and Pan-Afrikan activist Dr. Umar Johnson came out of hiding this week for a discussion on all things American politics, Black unity and activism in a recent interview on “The Breakfast Club.”
Johnson touched on several topics during his lengthy chat with the popular morning radio show, including activism efforts by notable Black celebrities. In the interview, he highlighted the wave of criticism that followed rapper Jay-Z‘s decision to partner with the NFL earlier this year.
Critics were quick to dub the “99 Problems” lyricist a “sellout” for his efforts to help the league with entertainment and social justice initiatives. Johnson, a school psychologist who faced a controversy of his own amid doubts over his credentials, was slow to judge, however, and told why he was willing to give Jay the benefit of the doubt.
“When you invest in Black people, I’ll give you political credit,” Johnson told hosts Charlamagne Tha God, DJ Envy and Angela Yee. “I’m going to give you some room to do some things that might look suspicious on the surface, but you’ve earned enough trust from me where I’m going to let you move a little bit before I judge your actions.”
Johnson noted how Jay-Z and wife Beyoncé had bailed dozens of protesters out of jail, as well as the rapper’s work on a stirring documentary on the life of wrongfully accused Black teen Kalief Browder.
He further lauded Beyoncé Superbowl halftime performance in 2016, which paid tribute to the Black Panther Party on the organization’s 50th anniversary.
“Beyoncé showed me right then, on the biggest stage in the world — she said ‘I am going to show respect for what my ancestors have done for me. I ain’t forgot about Assata Shakur. I ain’t forgot about Fred Hampton, ‘” said Johnson.
“So as far as I’m concerned, can’t nobody come to me about Jay-Z or Beyoncé,” he added, arguing that sometimes the public is too quick to castigate those in high places.
Umar also used media mogul Tyler Perry as an example. Perry, 50, made history earlier this year when hecompleted a $250 million facility in Atlanta, becoming the first African-American to have an independently-owned movie studio.
While Umar says he’s not a fan of Perry’s iconic Madea movies, he believes the actor might be moving differently behind the scenes.
“Guess what? If [Perry] has to do Madea to raise the necessary capital so he can give us a movie on Marcus Garvey, let him do Madea,” the psychologist said. “So he can give us a movie on the Mau Mau Revolution. So he can give us a movie on Bishop Turner … and so he can give us a movie showing how a Black man finally leaves his white woman and goes back to the Black woman.”
“Give that man some room to maneuver and judge him later,” Johnson concluded.
Watch more in the video below.