On Thursday night, I made it a point to be at home and in front of my television set so that I could watch the newest contribution to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup, “Black Jesus”. In this show, Jesus has returned to Earth, is living in Compton, California, and is drinking 40s, smoking weed, and otherwise “keepin’ it real!”
Now because I was a big fan of “The Boondocks” and the humor of creator Aaron McGruder, I was interested in seeing how a show called “Black Jesus” would turn out under his watch. It had some funny moments, but it’s got a lot of room for improvement.
I’ll probably tune in to this week’s show because I usually give shows a three-episode tryout before I just write them off.
But what I’ve found even more interesting than the concept of “Black Jesus” is how people, particularly Black people, have reacted to the concept of “Black Jesus”.
As I sat in front of my computer and took notes on the show for this blog posting, my brother Dennis came into the room and saw what I was watching. His response to me was “Denise, turn that blasphemous mess off!”
He wasn’t the first person to say that to me, by the way. I had a lot of Christian friends who refused to even look at the trailer for “Black Jesus” because they felt that it defamed their Lord and Savior by its very existence.
Heck, One Million Moms even called for a boycott.
Now I understand that to a lot of people combining “Jesus” and “Irreverent humor” might be a bit much.
But experience has taught me that this isn’t about the humor as much as it is about something else.
What is that something else, you might ask?
If you want to start a fight with Black folks, and you’ve grown tired of touching the Third Rail of Black Entertainment that is Beyonce’, inferring that Jesus may have been Black will do it. Guaranteed.
I know this from experience….
When I was a student at Temple University, I took a course in the African American Studies department called “The Black Church”. My professor, Dr. Daudi Azibo, taught us about the connection between Black folks and religion. It wasn’t a class for the faint of heart…especially since among the things he taught us was that Jesus was Black.
Since most of the pictures I had seen of Jesus before that class were pictures that showed him as not only White, but as a strawberry blond, I found it kind of interesting.
Especially since I still remembered the time that someone brought a painting of Jesus that had him looking less like Max Von Sydow and more like Marvin Gaye into the house.
My Dad was not amused. If I remember correctly, it spent maybe two weeks hanging on the living room wall before it was relegated to the basement. I believe the words “that mess” were used to describe it.
So when I came home talking about Jesus being Black, well, I got the usual reactions that people get when you put “Black” and “Jesus” together.
- You’re relying too much on education and not enough on faith when you say stuff like that.
- Jesus doesn’t have a color. He loves us all.
And my personal favorite…
- It doesn’t matter…
Now let’s be honest here. When you look at the part of the world that Jesus is said to have come from, there’s no way He could resemble Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli in “Fast Times At Ridgemont High”
Whether you like it or not, the Middle East is a part of the African Continent. And guess what the African continent is filled with…?
You guessed it! Africans!
So logic would tell you that Jesus was….Black…
(By the way Aaron McGruder, putting your Black Jesus in a straight, light brown wig is just one of the things that kinda made folks give your show the side-eye. Thought you might want to know that…)
So if we’re looking at this logically, or with any kind of knowledge of anthropology or geography, why is it that Black folks have an issue with Jesus being Black?
I kinda have an idea…
It’s a self-esteem issue.
Christianity may not be exactly the same everywhere in the world, but it has one very important thing in common: It was brought to people by the same people who write history books; the Victors. If you’ve been colonized, you don’t get to decide what your deities look like.
The deities are gonna look like the Victors.
And so is just about everything else.
That includes your political leaders, or has everyone forgotten how Political Blackworld looked at early supporters of President Barack Obama like they had two heads…and how it required the approval of Whites to get them on board?
If you don’t, I can remind you…I still have the stories…
Now if you’re a people that has been taught that everyone who has dominion over you, including your deities, looks a certain way, someone suggesting that this isn’t the case is going to lead to some cognitive dissonance…Your belief, and this new knowledge are going to fight.
Which is why I say that introducing the concept of a Black Jesus is a sure-fire argument starter. The cognitive dissonance it creates makes the whole “Black President’ concept look like a walk in the park.
Now I don’t know how this gets resolved. Or even if it can.
But if you want to call “Black Jesus” blasphemous, ask yourself this question: Is it the fact that Jesus is sitting around drinking 40s of Malt Liquor that’s making you feel that way or is it that Jesus is Black?
I’m hoping that McGruder addresses this question in a future episode…and that I remain interested enough to see how he does it…