He asked his followers: “Can I have your grit money for one year?“
Umar Johnson posted to Instagram on Labor Day to give an explanation of why the school for Black boys that he raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years has never been built.
Umar placed some of the blame for the lack of construction on Frederick Douglas Marcus Garvey Academy (FDMG) on the way Black people spend their money.
For example, he said during the post that Black people spend $19 million annually on grits. Specifically, grits made and sold by the Quaker Oats company
Johnson may have been citing NewsOne’s report on Black buying power that referenced how much money Black people in America spend on so-called “soul food,” including the $19 million on grits and “Louisiana Fish Fry ($11 million); Glory Greens (frozen and fresh, $9.5 million combined) and Jay’s Potato Chips (nearly $2.7 million).”
Perhaps that explains why Johnson asked his followers, “can I have your grit money for one year? Give me your grit money for one year and I will build 10 schools across this country. Give me your Quaker grits. No more grits for one year. Can we sacrifice our grits for one year?”
“I don’t want your Louis bag money, I don’t want your Mercedes money, I don’t want your weave, perm, haircut, Air Jordan, Timberland money — give me your grits! We spent $19 million on grits and I don’t have enough money to renovate the Garvey building.”
The web has much to say about Dr. Umar, especially as it relates to the fact that he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations for the construction of a school for Black boys that he allegedly never intended to build. For the record, he has insisted otherwise.
In 2014, Johnson launched an initiative to fund an all-Black boys school. At the time, Johnson said he was planning to raise $5 million to “buy St. Paul’s College, an HBCU in Lawrenceville, Virginia, and convert it into a boarding school for young African American boys.”
Five years later, Johnson announced in a video that he had finally raised the funds to buy property in Wilmington, Delaware, to house the FCMG Academy. However, Johnson said in his Labor Day video that he still needed money for the “renovation” of FDMG Academy. He said he already has “the architectural plan” but still needs money to pay for “the electrician and HVAC and the fire alarm and the sprinkler company.”
Johnson ended the rant with a pitch for his audience to donate to the school’s CashApp.
Johnson may have lost some trust in the black community but his pitch was worth a shot.
Yes, Black folks account for more than $1 trillion in spending annually, but it’s not all selfish consumerism.
A study from 2012 revealed that African Americans donate a larger share of their income to charities than any other group in the nation. However, judging from the social media backlash of Dr. Umar, I doubt that generosity will extend to him this time around.