Psychologist calls on African Americans to ‘take pride in race’

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UT’s McClung Museum was packed with students ready to hear Dr. Umar Johnson’s lecture Pan-Afrikenism, about the rise, fall and redemption of Africa for the Africans Movement, on Wednesday. The clinical psychologist, educator and political scientist called on all African Americans to take pride in their race as part of the Pan-Africanism movement.

Johnson’s lecture challenged African American’s to ban together and appreciate their culture rather than deny it. He stated that in today’s times, many African’s are trying to run away from who they are.

“Before anything else, you are African,” he said. “Until you become proud of what you are, you’ll never fight to protect it.”

During his lecture, he addressed issues including multiculturalism, racism and the war on the African American image. In particular, he spoke to the problems with the thought that we live in a post-racial society.

Johnson partially blames African Americans for their stagnant place on the social ladder because of their promotion of “gangster rap” and the illegal actions inferred in the music. However, he described the post-racial society belief as a lie with continued apathy towards acts of racism in both personal and business relations.

“The new racism is to act like there is no racism,” he said. “When you see (racism) but don’t act, you are guilty.”

Further, he believes that the reason some African Americans attempt to disown their cultural heritage is to try to be accepted in white culture.

“There is something slavery did to you,” he said. “(Slavery) made you comfortable seeing yourself disrespected.”

“Dr. Umar was dynamic throughout his lecture and invoked a lot of agreement, especially by seemingly giving a voice to the African Americans who silence their struggles with racism,” said Hoor Temuri, a freshman business major.

Johnson urged African American’s to value their unique contributions to world history and American history. He cited the courage of African American icons such as Martin Luther King, Jr.; Malcolm X; Marcus Garvey; Harriet Tubman; and his own blood relative, Frederick Douglass.

“Blackness is not based on your color, it is based on the blood in your veins: the DNA,” he said. “In order to be African, it’s not just having the DNA or the ancestry. To be an African you have to psychologically identify as such.”

Austin Pirkle also contributed to this story

Featured image by Austin Pirkle

Edited by Hannah Hunnicutt

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