New Year, New Standards: What Tariq Nasheed and Umar Johnson’s Beef Exemplifies About Black Leadership Problems

New Year, New Standards: What Tariq Nasheed and Umar Johnson’s Beef Exemplifies About Black Leadership Problems

By Liz Brazile

Late last week, the two ashiest chairmen of the hotep delegation—Tariq Nasheed and the supposed Ph.D-level scholar, Umar Johnson—went head to head in an online feud. Johnson fired shots at Nasheed, challenging him to a boxing match on Instagram. Nasheed then took to YouTube to clap-back at Johnson and “expose” him as a fraud—even though sensible folks have been known that Johnson is a scammer, making a career out of exploiting the “woke” community’s burning desire for a new and elite class of pro-black, cishet male leaders.

For those who aren’t up to speed, Nasheed addresses a number of personal grievances with Johnson in the now-deleted video in question—who put who on the map, who would win in a physical fight, who is the more requested lecturer, who has the crustier worldview, etc. Eventually, Nasheed goes on to condemn Johnson for his lack of progress with the boarding school he vowed to start, for which he has received thousands upon thousands of dollars in donations. Nasheed also voices doubts that Johnson ever intended to build a school.

Hold up.

If Nasheed has been privy to Johnson’s deceit, why didn’t he speak up sooner? Why did it take a personal insult for someone whose platform is centered around the progress of black people to publicly denounce a person who is attempting to bamboozle the collective? All signs point to cishet men valuing the preservation of patriarchy over honest and productive leadership—at least until it gets personal.

Many of these hoteps would rather ignore the glaring red-flags when it comes to problematic male leaders than reevaluate the faith they’ve put into these men, simply because they deliver charismatic speeches about the black man’s plight and know a ting or two about systemic racism. Men like Johnson and Nasheed also believe that the liberation of black people begins and ends with cishet black men—to hell with black people of marginalized genders or sexual orientations.

We need to stop entrusting these men—whose understanding of systemic oppression is limited to the oppression they experience—to effectively lead us towards liberation. Folks in the black “conscious” community expect everyone to put a man’s questionable character and conduct to the side in the name of confronting “the real” enemy– white supremacy. They constantly demand that everyone put their blackness first, and routinely bully each other into prioritizing the achievement of cishet men–no matter how problematic they are–over everyone else in the movement. And I’m not here for it.

I understand the history of powerful black leaders being conspired against by the man. And I also understand that mediocre white men are gifted positions of power and influence, just for being white and male everyday. But we must be discerning and honest enough to call bullshit when we see it, lest black community “leaders” continue using institutionalized racism as a Trojan horse to exploit the movement and dodge the accountability that is required to maintain a meaningful and ethical social movement.

Let’s leave giving problematic, scamming ass men a platform and a following just for being pro-black and pontificating about white supremacy in 2017. Cheers to maintaining a more moisturized standard for black leadership in 2018!



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