One of our hopes for the New Year is that the African American community would strive to seek new ways to unify in order to be prepared to face the challenges that are bound to be revealed in the wake of a Donald Trump presidency. This wishful thinking was tentatively dashed to shreds by a beef that came in with the New Year between two individuals from the so-called “conscious community.”
Dr. Umar Johnson, a speaker, school psychologist and self-proclaimed “Prince of Pan Africanism” who rose to prominence claiming to be a “blood relative” of Frederick Douglass, got into an incredibly public beef with “General” Sara Suten Seti, another member of the “conscious” community. In what is being called “Hotep Hostilities,” “Woke War,” the “Uncle Ruckus Fracas” and the “Kemet Conflict,” the two have fired off a series of incredibly vitriolic videos dueling each other. Seti, a black revolutionary and African philosopher is founder of the RGB (Red/Black/Green) Movement. Basically, after a canceled engagement scheduled to be sponsored with another member of the “woke” community, Sa Neter, there was a pissing contest of sorts between those scheduled to be involved in the event. Umar Johnson suggested calling together a council of conscious elders (a “tribunal”) to referee the dispute. General Seti took issue saying that he would not participate in a “tribunal” and proceeded to tear apart Dr. Umar in language that would make a sailor blush. Every other word was “ni@@er” this, ni@@er that, etc.. He cast aspersions on Umar’s relationships with women, and much, much more that sounded quite unlike anything that would come out of the mouth of someone who is “conscious.”
Dr. Umar responded in an extended rant liberally using the “N” word attacking Seti on every level possible. He ridiculed him saying that he probably had an inferiority complex because he was light-skinned and short, talked about his lack of education and his poverty demonstrated by his having to live with his mom. Umar also said that he was far more popular and respected in the conscious community, and basically said that Seti was a wannabe, in so many words. Dr. Umar just lost it – he was literally seething. He talked about how Seti, being short and moneyless, had to look up to women, and that he (Umar) had women look up to him because of his height, etc. He is saying that HE is the leader of the conscious community, and challenged Seti to a debate in Detroit.
Umar later issued an apology of sorts, but complained about the fact that people had shared the public videos. But for a lot of African Americans who witnessed this incredible mutual diatribe this behavior has significantly lowered their opinion of Dr. Umar, General Seti, and the so-called conscious community. There was absolutely nothing conscious about the way this beef played out in the public, and it revealed that both men, based on the language used and style of delivery, were more akin to “gangsta” rappers than to people seeking positive solutions for the Black community. It would be hard to imagine Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Minister Louis Farrakhan, Nelson Mandela, Frederick Douglass, and other renowned Black leaders getting into loud, boisterous, profanity laden public fights liberally sprinkled with the “N” word with each other about who has the greatest number of followers, etc. This argument was ego-laden and more about selfish ambition than about the well-being of the Black community.
As we anticipate a change in racial and economic climate with the upcoming new presidential administration, the last thing we need is to have so-called leaders engaging in self-serving public squabbles. This is a new year with new options and the fate of the Black community will be determined by how well we are strategically situated in the face of potentially hostile odds. As we go into this new territory, we must be careful about the quality of leadership that we embrace. A sure fire indicator of good leadership is a demonstration of restraint in the face of difficult odds and a lack of self-serving, ignorant behavior. We know that this type of leadership exists. A luta continua.