Students speak out at Johnson’s speech


Dr. Umar Johnson speaks on Pan-Africanism at the KIVA on Feb. 8, 2016.

Itzzy Leon

After guest speaker Umar Johnson spoke at the KIVA on Tuesday night, Johnson took questions from the audience, including one by Jordin Manning, a freshman studying zoology major.

Manning is part of the LGBTQ community and identifies as queer.

Manning’s question to Johnson was, “With the black lives matter movement arising, how do you feel about the three sapphic women founders being invalidated as well as the women in the movement in terms of white supremacy and misogyny?”

“I do not support same sex relationships. However, I do not hate anyone who practices it,” Johnson said.

Johnson continued after much applause from the audience.

“In my spiritual, cosmological principles and in my study of African culture, there is almost, there is none, absolutely none, evidence of any traditional African society that ever condoned, accepted, or allowed the open practice of same sex relationships,” he said.

Johnson said that no one would be able to find an African society that allowed the practice of a same-sex relationship, repeatedly saying that he does not hate anyone and that he is free to disagree with the lifestyles of others.

“My problem with the LGBTQ movement is they have created an atmosphere where if you disagree with their lifestyle, you are automatically branded as a hater and destroyer of them,” he said.

Johnson said he is in favor of the relationship between a black man and a black woman. Much of the audience supported his stand in a “traditional” relationship.

Johnson discussed the issues he sees with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and his views on it, saying he has not personally met the founders of the movement, but he is concerned with the way they are running it. 

“There is an intentional movement to confuse the black struggle with the gay struggle and because the founders of Black Lives Matter are of an alternative lifestyle, it is my hope, and I do not know this, it is my hope that they do not allow themselves in any way shape or form to be used as that origin that seeks to come into the black community and inject LGBT[Q] forcefully in an effort to confuse young people about what exactly black power movement actually means,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the word “homophobia” is a word the LGBTQ community came up with to “bully people who don’t agree with their lifestyle.” He then quoted the Bible and said the term was not in it as proof.

“I’m not interested in any type of movement that seeks to confuse fighting for racism and fighting for gender equality or LGBTQ equality,” he said. 

Johnson said the black and the gay struggle are not the same.

 “Gay people are fighting for their right to openly practice a behavior. Black people are fighting for the right to breathe,” he said. 

He ended his answer saying the struggle of the LGBTQ community is not theirs (the black community).

“Homosexuals were never systematically dehumanized, if they were, show me where. Homosexuals will never be systematically dehumanized. They were never ever considered not to be people. Their struggle is not ours,” he said.

At the end of Johnson’s answer, Manning said he did not answer her question.

“He answered what I wanted to know about his stand on homophobic comments but he didn’t exactly answer my questions. It just seemed like he was making a bunch of disclaimers on what his views weren’t and I just wanted my question answered,” she said.

“I felt like I didn’t accuse him of…homophobia, I was just wondering his stand on misogyny and white supremacy and like I said the founders are often overshadowed because of things like misogyny and homophobia and racism,” she said.

Maria Luppino, a freshman pre-nursing student was offended by what Johnson said.

“He just completely disregarded, all the strides that anyone in the LGBTQ community has made, all of their struggles. He completely disrespected the 49 black trans women that were murdered in the first half of 2015. I was very disappointed to listen to him and hear all of the different holes in his arguments, which made it very hard for me to take everything else that he said very seriously,” she said.

Luppino, who considers herself an LGBTQ ally, was upset over Johnson’s words about the struggles the LGBT community supposedly doesn’t face.

“I have seen first hand accounts of people in the community being dehumanized, beaten, I have seen one of my friends who is gay almost shot for being gay. So to hear him say that people in the community aren’t dehumanized and don’t have to struggle in this country makes me very upset,” she said.

Itzzy Leon is an International Reporter.