How did we get so far afield?
The trip from the way Jesus most likely looked to the Jesus most white Christians find in their Bibles is long and tattered and full of paid.
And this matters. Representation always does.
I think the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down. They are a form of white supremacy. Always have been.
It was a provocative stance, but I couldn’t agree more, and we are not alone in this. If you grew up worshipping someone who looks like you…
…it can set up all kinds of ugly assumptions that haunt you, and that kind of assumption makes it difficult to accept something closer to the truth — and by accepting that truth, letting go of those ugly assumptions. It also shuts out the accurate representation of people who would benefit from same.
No, really. Does it matter? Well, yes.
Anna Swartwood House at Univ. of South Carolina, studies how Jesus has been whitewashed. Through the years, she writes, various artists recast Jesus in their own images — German artists turned Jesus in a German — Italian artists, same thing. Bit by bit, the image of Jesus was robbed of his Middle Eastern-ness, his Jewishness, his everything, House writes.
As Europeans began colonizing the world, they brought European Jesus with them as a means of, well, colonizing. White Jesus was used to codify a caste system with the colonizers at the top.
The same methods were used in this country. As the country moved west and chewed through Native lands, they brought European Jesus with them. So did the Ku Klux Klan, who couldn’t find scriptural backing for their actions, so they used religious symbolism — like White Jesus.