Joel, It'd Behoove Us To Stop Seeing Jesus As White! #TheBible @History

Image originally taken from the cartoon The Boondocks and Brian

“It’s not an accident that the Jesus in this History Channel special is white and speaks with a fine British accent. After all, it’s not like there aren’t plenty of actors of MIddle Eastern descent available to play these roles. That was a decision made by the producers of this program because they need ratings, they need to sell ad space, and the best way to do that is to portray Jesus, and all the other BIble heroes, in a way that is comfortable for the audience.”


“Without having visited your church, I feel pretty safe in assuming that if your church is located in the United States (or the West in general) and your congregation is predominately white, then all the images of Jesus that occupy your church are also white.

This may not be the sort of overt racism of the KKK. Obviously it’s not. But it’s still racism. It’s racism domesticated, racism coated in a veneer of pseudo-innonence and naiveté.”- Zach Hunt, The American Jesus, “Everybody in the Bible was White?”

Now, Joel suggested that it would behoove us critics to not criticize this the Nazi Helmet Channel’s latest contribution to American Civil Religion (at least until we have seen it)*. This is not about the academics involved, Joel, this has nothing to do with them. This has to do with the cultural production of Jesus as a white man over and over again, and the historical figures in the Bible as White white white. If these people are all seen as white, God is and will always be viewed as white. And when God is persistently seen as one the side of the victors of history, then God endorses oppression, and I am not down with that. Sorry, and neither is Jesus! Because Jesus was Jewish, his ancestors were Jewish, they lived in the Ancient Near East (east to where?), but white privelege and supremacy would have us to forget this.

“Some may ask what the point of all this is, though frankly, it ought to be obvious. So long as our culture pictures Adam, Eve, Moses, Jesus, Mary, the Apostles, and even God “himself” as fair-skinned, despite the obvious preposterousness of such representations, we will continue to plant the seeds of racial supremacy in the hearts and minds of millions. After all, to believe that divinity is white like you leads one to easily assume that others are somehow less complete, less than human. If God supposedly made man in his image, and God is always portrayed as a bearded white guy (kinda like Santa without the suit), how big a leap is it — especially for children whose introduction to religion is always nine-tenths forced propaganda anyway — to assume that persons of color are somehow not full and equal “children of God?”- Tim Wise

For more on the history of white Jesus and U.S. American racism, I would suggest my book review of The Color of Christ by Paul Harvey and Edward J Blum.

*This phrase has been editted to more accurately reflect the post linked.

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0 thoughts on “Joel, It'd Behoove Us To Stop Seeing Jesus As White! #TheBible @History

  1. Joel

    Rodney, it might behoove you to read y post and tweets a bit better before you says asinine things that are completely unfounded.

    1. Charles

      Which part did he get wrong? Looks like you said that critics should respect the consulting scholars and wait before criticizing. Looks like that’s what Rod said that you said.

      There’s no way that Jesus was White. They cast a White guy… again. How would respecting the scholars in any way change the merits of casting a European guy who looks like a California surfer dude to play Jesus?

  2. Pingback: Troubles with Jesi | Mind Your Language

  3. MJ

    It would behoove you to contextualize the importance of 20th century (ahem) race politics within a religious framework. It doesn’t matter. This criticism is just as racist and self-important and opposes the very message of the religion. Anyone that’s serious about being Christian would realize all media portrayals (and self-aggrandizing criticisms thereof) are part of a language of the physical world written by “someone” other than the Holy Trinity. More turmoil and tension and divisiveness…who would that be…
    I’m not particularly religious but you can’t stand there as an atheist and whiteknight* for a religion you have no investment in other than to further your own racial-political theories simply because the contrast of man and supreme Other allows you to strap your Master/Slave construct onto it for maximum, overblown, victim-mind-perpetuating, pride-swelling effect. There are plenty of predominantly black churches that have just as much an opportunity for presenting an icon in their own color if they so choose. You can always complain to the Jewish-owned media outlets that perpetuate the white-jesus propaganda, too…but that would require a belief in some sort of conspiracy or something and you’re not one to be taken in by such things, right?


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