Why Niggas With Advanced Degrees Hate It When People Lie About Having Them, Explained » VSB

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Why Niggas With Advanced Degrees Hate It When People Lie About Having Them, Explained

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So, I have to say. Although most of the criticisms about Dr. Umar Johnson seem to be valid, the one that makes me feel a certain way is how hard some of you degreed niggas are going in on his supposed lack of a doctorate. It seems elitist and classist; as if only a Black person with those credentials is allowed a platform.  

Hmm. I can actually see how it might seem that way, as geographically incorrect Africa medallion soaked in Thunderbird with sentience “Dr.” Umar Johnson’s claim that he forgot to renew his PhD paperwork was met with unparalleled glee and mirth. Niggas had more fun with that than we do at Six Flags.

But that’s more about the fact that it exposed his particular convergence of falsehoods than any sort of classism and anti-Blackness.

Eh. Maybe your claims would be more valid if it weren’t true that these same jokes at Johnson’s expense were made from your iPhones and Macbooks (created by college dropout Steve Jobs) and published on Facebook (created by college dropout Mark Zuckerberg). I guess its only cool when White dudes don’t have the degrees.

You’re still missing the point. It’s not about whether Johnson has one. There are tons of laudable and respect-worthy niggas sans degrees. Jesus, for instance, didn’t even have a GED. And it’s not like degrees are some automatic dispenser of wisdom. It issue is that he lied — and still continues to lie — about having a PhD. And that the lie was conceived out of the same bucket of swirling and swindling fuckshit that his mythical connection to Frederick Douglass and his claims that he’s the world’s most requested scholar were born out of. His life is a microwave-friendly tray of lie manicotti, and the false degrees are just the cheese.

This makes sense, but it still doesn’t explain why some of y’all are going so hard on that.

Well, Black people who did manage to earn an advanced degree know that shit wasn’t easy. They remember the years devoted to school; the countless hours studying and editing and experimenting and writing and submitting. They remember the myriad roadblocks in their way. The schools in the middle of fucking nowhere they may have had to attend. The blatantly racist classmates. The blatantly racist faculty and advisers they may have had to prove themselves to. The rejections of their theories and work; the doubts of their work ethics and intelligence; the relentless self-doubting and questioning if they should just quit school and get a “real job.” The student loans still chasing them around; attached to them like a fart stuck to a cheap blouse. The disrespectful post-degree job offers.

And so, after dealing with all of that, it’s not hard to see why they’d be especially harsh towards someone who rolls up like “Yup. I got one of them degrees too. We’re degree twinsies!

Also, its not just about degrees. Like, imagine if you were a fireman. And you went through the grueling mental and physical training necessary to be one. And you’re out there risking your life and shit to fight fires.

And then one weekend you go to a BBQ. And the fire on the grill gets too hot. And someone takes a bucket of water and splashes it on the grill. And then that person decides to get a fireman’s Halloween costume from Party City, and starts calling himself a fireman. Even starts going on panels with the costume to talk about fire. And then people on Facebook listen to his speeches, and start saying things like “This dude knows everything about fire! He’s a motherfuckin Fire Maven!” And then he starts calling himself The World’s Most Requested Fireman, and starts a GoFundme to finance his own fire station.

And then, as a response to a friend lauding his fire genius and fire bravery, you say, “Well, actually…he’s not really a fireman.” And then you get accused of being a fire coon by his followers.

You’d feel a certain way about that, right?

I guess so.


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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • jfenbauer

    what does “he forgot to renew his PhD paperwork” mean? no one has to renew anything about a PhD. you have it or you don’t. fin.

    • Diego Duarte

      Anyone with the slightest bit of common sense would know this. Then again, if his followers had any they wouldn’t be his followers.

      • Mel

        Common sense ain’t common. I can’t believe people fall for that.

        • Mary Burrell

          Common sense is a flower that doesn’t grow in everybody’s yard.

          • siante

            lol, I’ll be using this

          • Coco Fiere

            Consider this quote stolen, ok? Thanks!

    • Hadassah

      Maybe in hotep university they do renewals and extensions of phd’s,no?

      • Ghettoprincess

        Renewing is how they stay woke.

        • SororSalsa

          Is renewal like a Hotep No Doz????

        • BlackHarvardMan

          You win the internet for ^that^ one — LMAO!!!

      • jfenbauer


      • Elissa Malaikah

        LMAO. The devil is a liar.

        • Janelle Doe

          “He is prowling” – chewing gum

    • miss t-lee


    • disqus_78wL58pkFN

      naw, them late fees for missing the PhD renewal are a BEAST tho.

    • MsCee

      Maybe if I don’t renew my degrees this year Navient will forgive all my student loan debt? OK, maybe not. Dayum

      • miss t-lee

        It’s worth a try.

      • BlackHarvardMan

        MsCee now you KNOW you just said a word ^right there!^ Maybe instead of asking Umar (aka “Dr. Who?!?”) about his “PhD renewal” somebody should ask him if he consolidated and who his servicer is — failure to know the answer to those questions is a dead giveaway.

        • MsCee

          Not Dr. Who though. Dying…lol.

        • sleep

          You do know his doctorate has been confirmed right? Wonder when we’re going to get that retraction.

          • BlackHarvardMan

            Actually no, his Doctorate has NOT been confirmed. No one has produced any evidence from the National Student Clearinghouse that he earned a Doctorate and his proposed dissertation is the only one that’s not downloadable from PCOM. Given that student’s can only embargo their dissertations for 2 yrs, this would seem to indicate that his disseration was rejected. Don’t sleep “sleep” — I how the system works.

    • Yay Radley

      Dammit, he’s on the cusp!

    • Janelle Doe

      It’s like the doomsday guy who forgot to carry the one way back when

    • SororSalsa

      I was wondering why he would say that. Does this dummy think degrees expire, and if you don’t renew it, it doesn’t show up on the NDD (National Degree Database)??? I know this is just an indication of his being caught and at the same time being dumb, and assuming everyone else is dumber than him, but…bish, whet?

    • sleep

      He never said he had to renew his phd. That was just another lie, made up and accepted by his haters. He never even said he had a phd, he said he has a doctorate.

    • sleep

      He never said he forgot to renew his phd paperwork. That was just another lie made up and accepted by his haters. He never even said he had a phd, he said he has a doctorate. Which is true.

  • miss t-lee

    Can I tell you how my cousin tried to talk to me about this kat over the weekend, and I threatened to disown him?
    Just thought I’d share.

    • Mary Burrell

      His stans stan hard for him like the Beehive do for Beyoncé.

      • miss t-lee

        We got into quite a debate over him. It was hilarious.

    • Should have done it. Treat them the same way you treat people who tweet youtube conspiracy videos.

      • miss t-lee

        I love him so I was like, “c’mon bruh.”

    • Whenever they mention Umar at the barbershop I always take time to disprove any argument he has made. Dude’s a charlatan.

      • miss t-lee

        I called him a hack and grifter. My cousin knew I wasn’t with the sh*ts immediately.

      • Mary Burrell

        Do they want to fight you?

        • I’m 5’6″ and 205lbs of muscle with a 400+ deadlift. They give me the up-down and we agree to disagree.

  • Cool

    He has a Doctorate of Psychology (PsyD) from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine


    • jfenbauer

      know your degrees. they are not the same. the PsyD is like a really good master’s degree.

      • Alessandro De Medici

        Eh I don’t know if I’d say that, I almost decided to get one so I did the research: the only major difference between the degrees is one is research-focused and the other is clinically-focused.

        • jfenbauer

          that’s like saying the only difference between an MD and a GP is research v clinic. not so much. an MD can do research but cannot legally practice medicine because they haven’t finished a residency. a GP can do either *because* she has finished a residency. so i get what you’re saying but the difference is really quite vast.

          • 909girl601world

            A PsyD is a terminal degree. It’s not like a really good master’s degree.

            What is a GP? There’s no GP degree. GP is short for “General Practitioner.” And a GP is still a medical doctor, just one that didn’t go into a “specialized” field – surgery, anesthesiology, cardiology, et.

            MDs can – and do – practice medicine. Graduating from medical school makes you a MD. You will always be an MD regardless of whether you complete a residency. There are plenty of med school graduates who never match, therefore never complete residencies. Or who start residencies and don’t finish them. They can practice. Most work as locums in emergency rooms.

            • jfenbauer

              MD w/out residency v MD w/ residency is the difference between (only) MD and GP (see article below). a writing MFA is a terminal degree too, but it isn’t a PhD in English, even if it comes with a contract with a publisher. they are not the same. so to say that they are, when one takes less academic work makes the MFA a really good Master’s. they simply are not equal.


              • jfenbauer

                also GP is considered a specialty – because residency. and MFA means Master’s of Fine Arts. so being a terminal degree is mute.

          • Alessandro De Medici

            Yeah, but that doesn’t apply to the point you made.

            It’s clear that a PhD provides more bang for your buck than a PsyD, but in terms of the field, the major difference is the former has research and clinical experience, whereas the other has just clinical experience. Legally, there is no difference. But yeah, saying a PsyD is just a really good Masters Degree isn’t accurate at all.

            • jfenbauer

              my point is that one has not done the level nor amount of work that is needed to get a PhD. so the options open to a person with a PsyD are limited by the nature of the degree. PsyD opens more work options than a Master’s but is in no way equal to a PhD. hence my saying it’s a really good Master’s.

              • jfenbauer

                also it is incorrect to say one has a PhD when one has a PsyD. and that is the overarching issue.

      • PinkRose

        That’s kinda foul.

    • NotToday

      There’s no proof he even has that. He submitted a dissertation but we don’t know if he defended it so for all we know, he hasn’t completed his degree yet. The Root did all the legwork here:

      • jfenbauer

        great article! thx

    • orchid921

      Which is NOT a PhD. Not at all.

  • FOH with the “forgot to renew his PhD”. It’s not a driver’s license; assuming you did the work you were supposed to do with regards to your research and writing and defense, once you have it you have it. It’s not like the carton of milk behind the purple stuff in the fridge that you forgot about. There’s no expiration date. I’m seriously ragey right now.

  • Mary Burrell

    Well the gag for me is when he is lying he does it with a straight face and he talks very fast. I watched that Roland Martin interview and listened to him talk about his being a descendant of Frederick Douglass that was just crazy listening to all that. And it was crazy watching Roland and the other panelists try to set him up. It got heated when he called the black Republican a c00n.

  • Hugh Akston
  • Mel

    Lying about things that can be easily found out is stupid. So, don’t do it. I really wish we’d stop paying attention to people like this.

  • cysinblack


  • Mary Burrell

    It insults those who put in the work and he’s out here with his bull sharkey that’s what makes a lot of folks angry. But it’s amazing to me how many folks haven’t seen through his facade.

    • Duff Soviet Union

      Umar and Tariq fans are the Trump fans of the Black community. Often literally.

      • Mary Burrell

        That’s a great example.

  • NomadaNare

    Black folk will character assassinate each other over a misplaced skeewee skeephi or skeoop and run all over social media behind a nobody wearing colors he didnt earn but cant understand why people who put *years* of their lives and paid tens of thousands of dollars to get hazed into this graduate school life to earn something that has demonstrable economic value would not want that accomplishment tarnished by someone who didnt earn it

    Oh okay

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