so i mentioned a while ago how i had just discovered all these old Phil Donahue episodes on youtube. one in particular that i want to discuss is the one entitled "Was Jesus Black?" in this episode, Phil has various black people on the show discussing the historical references and arguments to support the idea that Jesus was black.
while i am fascianted with nearly every aspect of religion, i am only vaguely concerned with the racial make-up of Jesus. theres barely any evidence to show he existed at all, let alone any to give insight to his "race". black people should spend more time questioning the morals and subliminal messages of the bible than the racial make-up of any of its important figures. but thats another post. i wanted to expand on the comments made by the (self-identified) white people that phoned in to offer their opinions.
the main sentiment of the white individuals in the audience and on the phone was- "what does his skin color have to do with it?...i don't care if he's black, green, or hot pink!....it's sacreligious to speak about the phenotype of god...etc." what i find interesting is that it didn't seem much of a concern for the white people calling in to question why it would be such an issue to worship a god (or god in human form) that looks nothing like you. then again, it doesn't take much of an imagination to wonder why some individuals have such difficulty stepping into the perspective of someone of a minority race when our perspective has been, for the most part, ignored, distorted or completely left out in most textbooks, history lessons, and general historical education. the inferiority complex evident even today in many (most) black and brown people has to be examined from all axes. religion may not be the arena most people explore, but with people of color being some of the most religious in the country, this field has to be studied.
growing up in a non-denominational church in southern Alabama, the only figure in my religious upbringing that resembled me in was satan and his demons. they were the only dark-skinned individuals in ANY religious imagery. in contrast, every depiction of God, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Noah, Moses, or any angel was white. Asians, Pacific Islanders, Blacks and Native Americans did not exist. at the time, it didn't have much effect on me (or so i didn't think). living in a country in which most shows, movies, television commericials, etc....are white, white, and white, it wasn't something that stuck out to me. every now and then the pastor of the church i grew up it mentioned the verse in Revelations that talks about Jesus having "hair like wool...", which got a reaction. but that isn't enough to reverse the overwhelming racial preferences in Christianity.
i don't consdier myself a Christian presently, but the idea of a white god and a black devil never was a factor in that. and i'm wondering now, why is that? why is it easy for many black and brown people to accept this idea of a white god? what kind of effect does this have on the personal esteem when all the people that look like you in the Bible dwell in hell? does it have any effect on our thoughts?
i've recently read about the Black Madonna and about how the imagery of Christianity at one point and time was very black, but was changed once it reached the Americas. Europeans changed this imagery to fit themselves as a people, so why haven't we as blacks and browns changed the imagery to suit ourselves?
in some circles, it is happening. one of my aunts gave my mother a Bible with all the characters represented as black people a while back. it was the first bible i had seen like that; the first time i had seen a black Mary and Joseph holding a black baby with black wise men behind them. Afro-centric churches have changed the imagery of Jesus, but as far as the masses of black church-goers, i think the imagery is consistently white.
what have been your experiences with religious imagery? do you think it has effected your personal ideas on color, race, or nationality? do you think it effects the esteem of others? is it necessary to liken the imagery of your religious gods and goddesses to oneself? also, if one can change the imagery of religious figures so easily, and have it become near fact in many people's eyes....wouldn't it be equally easy (and possible) for one to do the same to the religious text itself; to the message of the Bible? can this be added to the argument that suggests Christianity was instrumental in the mental enslavement of Africans?
comment. think. criticize.