Sunday, July 01, 2007
“To my [white] boyfriend, Jesus.”
A few weeks ago, I gave a seminar on Black male/female relationships at a Black church. At the close of the workshop, I was signing my books and overheard a conversation between two Black women in their mid 30s or so. I admittedly caught the tale end of their conversation, but heard one of them state emphatically, that, “her boyfriend was Jesus.” I was at first amused by what she said but then started thinking about her expression of love for the Son of God. Why this conflation of the divine with the romantic? How did she depict her “boyfriend” racially? Was he the misleading image of Jesus who has been drawn for centuries as a thin, white, blue-eyed, effeminate male, or did he possess the Black features of the man described in Revelation 1:14,15?
Given the bits and pieces of the conversation, I’d say it was the white boy image of Jesus.
I thought about how so much Black churchianity has become feminized. A few months ago, I participated in a men-only workshop at a Baltimore church entitled “Why Black Men Don’t Go to Church”. It was refreshing to hear Black men tell it like it is regarding their church attendance. I noticed that whenever race or racism was mentioned, howerver as a reason for non-attendance, it was frequently counterbalanced by “true believers” who claimed that Black men were “just sinful” and that the “devil had got a hold to Black men.”
To say the least, these are conversation stoppers and I’ve noticed that church-going Afrikans such as these drive in a race-neutral gear when it comes to talking about Jesus, the church, or anything dealing with their faith. This is especially true when it comes to discussing the social justice ministry of the Black church that historically lead the way for challenging white supremacy in the U. S. and the world. These believers' religion is deracinated and their uniqueness as Black “Christians” obliterated by a culturally gray and colorless profession of faith.
“I don’t care what color Jesus is; I just love him!” is usually followed by shouts of “Hallelujah!” and “Amen!”, and once again, Afrikan culture which is deeply rooted in Christianity and particularly in the Black church is neutralized. I’ve asked Black Christians that if it is true that it “makes no difference what color Jesus is, why not make him Black? Why not remove the white “Lamb of God” from sanctuary walls and replace Him with an image that looks like you and your children who invoke His name.?” These, of course are troubling questions for Black people who swallow hook, line and sinker, the Europeanized version of churchianity that has dominated the world and the minds of people of color for the past 1500 years.
And so I wonder about the Sister I heard at church the other day who asserted that her “boyfriend was Jesus.” Was he white, with pale milky features and stringy blonde hair the way white masters gave him to us on the plantation, and if so, was this her “ideal image” of who a lover should look like? Or, to paraphrase my Sister Gladys Knight, I wondered if she does get a real Black man as a boyfriend, will he be “second” to her idealized image of a blue-eyed skinny guy who has been branded in her brain as the “best thing that ever happened to her”?
I don’t know, but it my wondering is only half correct, it just shows the pernicious damage that a white supremacist view of Jesus has on the minds of my people…