Controversy Causes Cancellation


Sean Radaskiewicz

AACC’s Gay Straight Alliance rallying together to figure out different events to plan to counter Umar Johnson’s planned lecture.

Jaso Bolay, Editor

On Feb. 23, Dr. Dawn Lindsay, president of AACC, announced her executive decision to cancel Umar Johnson’s presentation after a considerable amount of noise arose around the controversial psychologist.

Lindsay felt that his format would not “foster the inclusive academic disclosure valued at AACC.”

Dr. Johnson was scheduled to appear on Feb. 26 discuss the impact of historical racism on the present generation. Given the prime spot of 6 to 8:30 p.m., he was supposed to help AACC celebrate Black History Month.

However, some students and faculty members were concerned about Johnson’s appearance on campus due to his controversial opinions on certain subjects.

After some research, Dr. Matt Patton, assistant professor of psychology and the advisor of the GSA, alerted the sponsors of the event, the Year of Social Justice and the Black Student Union, about Johnson’s views on sexuality via e-mail.

“I think you might have missed some important issues with Umar Johnson,” said Patton through e-mail. “You’re definitely going to want to dis-invite him,” he said.

Patton then highlighted YouTube videos of some of Johnson’s lectures.

Amongst some of his other claims, Johnson says that he doesn’t know a singe case of black homosexuality that he could not trace back to some kind of psychological experience in childhood or teenage years.

“Just like they go into [homosexuality], they can come back,” he had stated.
After celebrating Coming Out Week instead of Coming out Day, as it is nationally recognized, AACC has been making strides to make the campus a more inclusive community for all of its students, so the members of the GSA were taken aback when they heard about Johnson.

After rallying against the possibility of Johnson appearing at AACC, Zoe LaFemina, president of the GSA, contacted the Baltimore Sun to speak with her club to cast a spotlight on the situation. Her members also sent e-mails to their student representative, Chris Pineda, president of the Student Government Association.

While some were against Johnson’s potential arrival, some were not.

Demetrius Diakhate, president of the Black Student Union, believed that Johnson should have been allowed on campus.

After coming across him on Instagram, Diakhate had been an adamant follower of Johnson and eventually had the chance to meet him in D.C. and invite him to AACC.

“If someone feels like Dr. Umar should not come to the school because of his beliefs, then every person that has a belief that might upset somebody should not be allowed to come to school,” said Diakhate. “Y’all should just shut down outside individuals from coming into the school entirely if that’s the point.”

After the cancellation of the lecture, Diakhate and the Black Student Union rescheduled Johnson’s lecture. It was held on Feb. 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Riviera Beach Community Library.

The topic, however, was changed from the original one agreed upon by AACC, “The Impact of Historical Racism on the Present Generation”, to the “Crisis of Complacency: The Depression of Opression.”

“What if somebody came here to talk about business and they have a disdain for women?” said Diakhate. “Wouldn’t we still let them come regardless of their beliefs because they’re here to talk about business and nothing else?”