17
Nov
08

The Color of Jesus

I have never reposted one of my blog posts before, but with the rise in racially motivated violence by some ignorant white folks in the wake of Barack Obama winning the presidency and this quote highlighted at Deus Ex Malcontent which appears in the story I link to above, I think it’s worth doing. After all, I’m willing to bet a lot of people beating up or threatening or harrassing black folks and tan folks over this crap probably consider themselves Christians.

…Not that I figure too many people who are mad at blacks (or other minorities) right now are finding their way to this blog, but you never know.

So, I give you a re-run of “So White It’s Wrong” from March 14, 2008

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sayid-from-lost.jpgWell, thanks largely to the Christian faith becoming institutionalized and commercialized by the Roman Catholic church, we got the center of the church body planted in Italy. In Europe. Even though the church’s roots were in the Middle East. So, with all the European artists back in the day, Jesus got a lot of play in paintings. As a white guy. Very white.

Truth is, Jesus most likely wasn’t white.

He probably wasn’t black either. And the afrocentric Christians (and even non-Christians) who recolor Jesus as a fully black man are just overcompensating in the other direction.

Let’s face it: Jesus was born and raised in the Middle East. The ancient Hebrews probably weren’t very pale. Let’s remember that a lot of the people who went to Israel when it became its own country again after World War II were European Jews, which probably explains a lot of the current whiteness over there. And I’m sure the Middle East has paled a bit in general skintone-wise with activity and intercourse in the Mediterranean, especially with colonialist and expansionist attitudes among Europeans that continued into the 19th and even 20th centuries. And even in Jesus’ time with Greeks wandering around the area, well, Greeks can be pretty dark themselves sometimes. All that strong Aegean sunshine.

No, Jesus was most likely some shade of tan, and we need to get used to that. Painting Jesus in our own color (for those of Caucasian and African descent) may be comfortable, but it also is wrong. Making him look European or African is intellectually and spiritually dishonest. And frankly, if I were to cast Jesus for a movie, I think the person on top of my short list would be Naveen Andrews, who plays Sayid on Lost.

Oh, and ABC, for having mentioned your hit TV show on my wildly popular blog (cough, cough), you know, it would be cool with me if you wanted to send the boxed sets for the first three seasons.

(Image is of actor Naveen Andrews)

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5 Responses to “The Color of Jesus”


  1. 1 Deacon Blue
    November 18, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Just figured I’d post the original AP story I linked to above in case it’s easier for people to just read it here in the comments:
    ———————————————–

    Obama election spurs race crimes around country

    By JESSE WASHINGTON, AP National Writer Jesse Washington, Ap National Writer
    Sun Nov 16, 6:19 am ET

    Cross burnings. Schoolchildren chanting “Assassinate Obama.” Black figures hung from nooses. Racial epithets scrawled on homes and cars.

    Incidents around the country referring to President-elect Barack Obama are dampening the postelection glow of racial progress and harmony, highlighting the stubborn racism that remains in America.

    From California to Maine, police have documented a range of alleged crimes, from vandalism and vague threats to at least one physical attack. Insults and taunts have been delivered by adults, college students and second-graders.

    There have been “hundreds” of incidents since the election, many more than usual, said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes.

    One was in Snellville, Ga., where Denene Millner said a boy on the school bus told her 9-year-old daughter the day after the election: “I hope Obama gets assassinated.” That night, someone trashed her sister-in-law’s front lawn, mangled the Obama lawn signs, and left two pizza boxes filled with human feces outside the front door, Millner said.

    She described her emotions as a combination of anger and fear.

    “I can’t say that every white person in Snellville is evil and anti-Obama and willing to desecrate my property because one or two idiots did it,” said Millner, who is black. “But it definitely makes you look a little different at the people who you live with, and makes you wonder what they’re capable of and what they’re really thinking.”

    Potok, who is white, said he believes there is “a large subset of white people in this country who feel that they are losing everything they know, that the country their forefathers built has somehow been stolen from them.”

    Grant Griffin, a 46-year-old white Georgia native, expressed similar sentiments: “I believe our nation is ruined and has been for several decades and the election of Obama is merely the culmination of the change.

    “If you had real change it would involve all the members of (Obama’s) church being deported,” he said.

    Change in whatever form does not come easy, and a black president is “the most profound change in the field of race this country has experienced since the Civil War,” said William Ferris, senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina. “It’s shaking the foundations on which the country has existed for centuries.”

    “Someone once said racism is like cancer,” Ferris said. “It’s never totally wiped out, it’s in remission.”

    If so, America’s remission lasted until the morning of Nov. 5.

    The day after the vote hailed as a sign of a nation changed, black high school student Barbara Tyler of Marietta, Ga., said she heard hateful Obama comments from white students, and that teachers cut off discussion about Obama’s victory.

    Tyler spoke at a press conference by the Georgia chapter of the NAACP calling for a town hall meeting to address complaints from across the state about hostility and resentment. Another student, from a Covington middle school, said he was suspended for wearing an Obama shirt to school Nov. 5 after the principal told students not to wear political paraphernalia.

    The student’s mother, Eshe Riviears, said the principal told her: “Whether you like it or not, we’re in the South, and there are a lot of people who are not happy with this decision.”

    Other incidents include:

    _Four North Carolina State University students admitted writing anti-Obama comments in a tunnel designated for free speech expression, including one that said: “Let’s shoot that (N-word) in the head.” Obama has received more threats than any other president-elect, authorities say.

    _At Standish, Maine, a sign inside the Oak Hill General Store read: “Osama Obama Shotgun Pool.” Customers could sign up to bet $1 on a date when Obama would be killed. “Stabbing, shooting, roadside bombs, they all count,” the sign said. At the bottom of the marker board was written “Let’s hope someone wins.”

    _Racist graffiti was found in places including New York’s Long Island, where two dozen cars were spray-painted; Kilgore, Texas, where the local high school and skate park were defaced; and the Los Angeles area, where swastikas, racial slurs and “Go Back To Africa” were spray painted on sidewalks, houses and cars.

    _Second- and third-grade students on a school bus in Rexburg, Idaho, chanted “assassinate Obama,” a district official said.

    _University of Alabama professor Marsha L. Houston said a poster of the Obama family was ripped off her office door. A replacement poster was defaced with a death threat and a racial slur. “It seems the election brought the racist rats out of the woodwork,” Houston said.

    _Black figures were hanged by nooses from trees on Mount Desert Island, Maine, the Bangor Daily News reported. The president of Baylor University in Waco, Texas said a rope found hanging from a campus tree was apparently an abandoned swing and not a noose.

    _Crosses were burned in yards of Obama supporters in Hardwick, N.J., and Apolacan Township, Pa.

    _A black teenager in New York City said he was attacked with a bat on election night by four white men who shouted ‘Obama.’

    _In the Pittsburgh suburb of Forest Hills, a black man said he found a note with a racial slur on his car windshield, saying “now that you voted for Obama, just watch out for your house.”

    Emotions are often raw after a hard-fought political campaign, but now those on the losing side have an easy target for their anger.

    “The principle is very simple,” said BJ Gallagher, a sociologist and co-author of the diversity book “A Peacock in the Land of Penguins.” “If I can’t hurt the person I’m angry at, then I’ll vent my anger on a substitute, i.e., someone of the same race.”

    “We saw the same thing happen after the 9-11 attacks, as a wave of anti-Muslim violence swept the country. We saw it happen after the Rodney King verdict, when Los Angeles blacks erupted in rage at the injustice perpetrated by ‘the white man.'”

    “It’s as stupid and ineffectual as kicking your dog when you’ve had a bad day at the office,” Gallagher said. “But it happens a lot.”

  2. November 18, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Thanks for this post. It really is sad to see how we misconstrue who Jesus was. I thought that maybe you would enjoy this short video that I put together a couple of years ago from images of http://godspace.wordpress.com/2007/07/26/jesus-a-man-for-all-nations/Jesus from different cultures.
    Blessings

  3. 3 Deacon Blue
    November 18, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Christine…I’ll have to come back later and finish watching your video (got about a third of the way through it and realized I don’t have much more time before I have to pick up Little Girl Blue from daycare).

    I should probably clarify that my objections to Jesus being cast outside of his likely ethnic appearance are mostly with those people who actually BELIEVE Jesus was white or black and insist that they are right. I think that there is a lot of value in depicting Jesus in different ways, particularly when the imagery is meant to convey spiritual concepts. Because, in a certain sense, Jesus is all of us, seeing as he died for all of us.

    That said, I still would like to see WAY fewer images of blue-eyed, white-skinned Jesus…that just feeds into a large contingent of people who think God is white, Jesus is white, and Christianity is for whites. LOL

    😉

  4. November 19, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    I like to think jesus was about my color… kinda golden brown… as for ol’ Naveen, wasn’t Jesus supposed to be ugly? dude is strikingly handsome. he reminds me of myself, when I had hair, and a waistline.

  5. 5 Deacon Blue
    November 19, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Well, I don’t know whether Jesus was ugly or not…Naveen is a handsome guy, I suppose, but not in a classical/traditional sense, so I guess that’s one reason I picked him. He has a certain presence that I think carries through well on the screen.


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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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