I realized in the wake of the Jeremiah Wright-Barack Obama bruhaha that there are simply somethings black people in America can’t say. One of my professors put it this way: Many of us who identify as Black or African American (I REALLY need to do a blog about that foolishness) are the descendants of slaves, and our thought processes were passed from generation to generation, and how to shape our consciousness as a people not living in our native land was passed mother to daughter and father to son. By the same token, the descendants of slave masters passed down the consciousness of white privilege to their children.
Some things the slave can NEVER say out loud.
It has always been politically incorrect for black folk to bring up certain topics–for some reason it always revolved around race. I wonder whyyyyy?
I think the Jeremiah Wright instance was one of these taboo moments. I had one friend say that none of this has to do with Barack Obama or his comments about the government, but really that one comment about “Hillary aint never been called a nigger” because, we in this country REFUSE to look at the similarities of Jesus and his fellow Jews of 1st century Palestine and black Americans. The taboo thing that Jeremiah Wright did was make Jesus a black man. Which will be number one on my list.
Jesus Was A Black Man. By saying that we’ve discounted all of the Michaelangelo artworks, and all of the yahoos that have claimed to see Jesus in a pinwheel or in the swirl of the cream of their coffee. I mean I had an uncle that said he had a vision of Jesus, and my father asked what did he look like and my uncle replied, “Like in the pictures.”
Granted that I’ve grown up and associated myself mostly around black people, not necessarily on purpose, but just as a matter of course, I wonder why is it that a good chunk of black people have a problem recognising Jesus as black. I have a family member who was quite angry at the fact that her home/birth church removed the images of a skinny, pale, white Jesus clearly being crucified on a cross with that of a risen black Jesus with open arms. And the thirteen stations of the cross were also replaced with images of black people. I mean, this family member was livid and said that they “Took my church that my daddy paid for away!”
I’ve also heard black people try and sound all deep when they say, “What difference does it make what color Jesus was? We all serve the same God?” Aside from the doctrinal issues I have of trinitarian versus apostolic, I think Jesus’ color is very crucial to understanding historical Jesus.
Okay, maybe he wasn’t black in the sense of me or the person you see standing in front of the barbershop on Martin Luther King Street in whatever city or town you live. But his skin color and his heritage were very crucial to his life’s choices and how he was crucified. That’s why a Jeremiah Wright included in his sermon the fact that Jesus was lynched or crucified, however you choose to see it, by the Italians. Are they not the descendants of the Roman empire, was not the seat of Roman Empire in Rome, which is in Italy? Or is my geography and world history that off the mark?
But Jesus definitely wasn’t this blonde hair, blued eyed, weak, wimpy, I-go-to-gay-pride events lil’ white boy. (DISCLAIMER: The reference to Jesus looking gay was from a friend of mine, who is a lesbian and white, so, she said it, not me!) And for anyone to hold onto that image, you REALLY need a reality check. How is it that black people especially have so much attachment to it. The image of our oppressor, is the same image as our savior? That’s doing some serious damage to the psyche of our children and to ourselves as older individuals.
So, I ask, how is it that black people aren’t allowed to make this assertion aloud lest risk being called divisive or (wait for it…) racist? No one has EVER questioned the reason why it’s okay to see the image of Jesus with blond hair and blue eyes. For what it’s worth, no one alive today, or even back at the start of the Roman Catholic church was alive to really see what Jesus looked like. Probably some yahoo had a dream of whom they personally thought Jesus looked like, and it just stuck. So now in modern times, everyone who has a dream or a vision with Jesus 9 times out of 10 looks like someone you know, either and uncle, a father, a pastor or even that oogy and creepy picture that hangs over your bedpost.
We all interpret Jesus through our own ethnic lens, or at least we should. Its nothing wrong with viewing Jesus as a black man, particularly when there are clear parallels between the lifestyles if one takes the time to do the proper research. So, don’t let someone else or something else dictate to you how you want to interpret Jesus, particularly if you’re black living in America.
But, again, it still baffles me why is it that white America can get so offended because of the things that black people say. Even I had thought we’d come farther than this, but maybe even I was wrong.
Keep it uppity, and keep it radical, JLL
6 thoughts on “One Thing Black Folk Can’t Say”
Living under white rule for so long in a world that is full of nothing but positive images of white people it’s not surprising that some black people would have a difficult time seeing Jesus as white. It’s very threatening to a lot of people, black and white, because of what it implies. It’s the same reason why people get out of sorts over human life originating in Africa.
When I was a babysitter in High School the 9-year-old half black, half Persian little girl I watched got very upset when I said Jesus wasn’t white. I pointed out to her that he couldn’t be based on the geography of the region he came from. He was more likely to look like her father, a Persian, than a white man. Then she insisted her father was white. And that’s where things got a little ridiculous.
But that’s how strong the pull is for whiteness to = good. People take offense if you say Jesus was something other than white because it is an offense to that claim of goodness. No one likes to get into the inconvenient stuff like how he was Jewish, that almost all of the action of the Bible takes place in northern Africa, the modern Middle East, Persia and the horn of Africa and that no white people live in those places. On top of that the Romans were not blond haired, blue eyed people. They looked much more like North Africans.
But don’t say that too loudly. Might make someone’s head explode.
Now you know what, you have definitel forced me to do some research. I’m going to make sure to ask my NT professor as to what did the Romans of 1st century Palestine look like. Because in my biblical studies classes we often just focus on the stark differences between the Jewish people and the others of the day versus that of the Roman empire which had taken up residence in that area.
We never really talk about what did the Romans look like. I will go pull from my shelf my book “Palestine in The Time of Jesus.”
I’ll get back with you.
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Well, I want to say the Romans resembled other Mediterraen peoples, but it’s difficult to get people to even acknowledge that the reason why there are so few blond haired, blue eyed Italians, Greeks and Spaniards. No one likes to be reminded that the Moors came from the Middle East and North Africa and stayed so long that they completely changed the ethnic makeup of millions of people forever.
Personally, in my head whenever I think of the Bible everyone looks Saudi, Iraqi, Egyptian, Algerian or Ethiopian. That’s probably because I know all the action is happening in North Africa and the Middle East and that most of the people probably looked that way.
And no amount of Hollywood has made the Romans lily white to me, especially considering folks were not as hung up on “race.” The term didn’t exist in the way it’s been used since the Europeans started establishing colonies. Based on mythology alone (and historical study second) those Romans and Greeks got around. So I could be wrong, I’m sure the Romans were whiter before the Moors got a hold of them, but being on the Mediterranean so close to all the other black, black and olive colored peoples I just can’t see a lot of burning and peeling.
Oh well, yes I can easily admit that the Romans were not overwhelmingly blond haired and blue eyed, but of course what we consider the olive colored, brown eyed, dark haired people we often associate with Sicily.
But, based on my studies and what our professors who have taught, race was a big enough issue in the first century in about that era. The mentions of centurions in the New Testament were in fact those of a distinguishably different race. I’m pretty sure those living in Baghdad probably know what the Jewish people of that day and age felt like seeing someone else of a different country just patrolling the streets.
But clearly, white folk have gotten whiter and whiter and by interpretation, purer and purer.
A hawt mess!
In back-in-the-day-speak: Right on with the right on!
It’s amazing what all that history can do for conscious-keeping. Consciousness raising requires conscious keeping by the conscious the Joshua Generation Black Literati. Appreciate Caleb’s role.
History and Law, I’m proud. Thank you for keeping it uppity.