I have a number of problems with Christianity. I am not shy about that fact. First of all, there’s the way it’s weaponized against LGBTQ people. Second, there’s the way that it is used to manipulate, especially in regard to the American political process. But I have to say, the thing that bothers me the most is the way that it has been used as a tool of white supremacy. Make no mistake, Christianity was just as much a tool of oppression as the whip or the gun. Don’t believe me? Imagine this: Let’s say you have a Perfect god. This Perfect god made you in his Perfect Image. He also made some Less-Than-Perfect People. They are so Less-Than-Perfect, that your Perfect god allows you to do with them as you will and not feel bad about it. Given these facts, why would you share your Perfect god with these Less-Than-Perfect People?
The answer is simple: You wouldn’t, unless there was something in it for you. In this case, it’s power. See, when white people decided to share Christianity with the people they enslaved, they didn’t share the full scripture with them. That would have been too kind. They only shared the parts that furthered their self-serving goals. They wanted to ensure that their victims would be docile and do as they were commanded, so they gave them all the passages about being obedient, forgiving, and turning the other cheek. After all, if you promise them a perfect world in the next life, they will never rebel against you in this one.
In addition to this, they came up with the theory of the sons of Ham. For those who don’t know, the story goes that Noah was a bit of a drunkard. One day, when he is drunk and naked, his son Ham sees him and laughs at him. For this transgression, Noah curses Ham and all of his descendants to be servants for eternity. Even though the Bible never actually mentions anything about race, this theory was used to justify slavery, and eventually segregation as well. Some forms of Christianity still didn’t believe black people were fully human, well into the 1970’s (Looking at you, Mormons).
On top of all this, let’s talk about White Jesus himself. The prevailing image of Jesus has blond hair and blue eyes, even though the bible takes place in the Middle East. Also, consider this: Where did holy family go to hide from Herod? Egypt, a place where they could blend in and not be noticed. Although, this fact means nothing to those suffering the effects of toxic whiteness. White supremacy is so delusional, it thinks Cleopatra looked like Liz Taylor. I suppose that it only makes sense. That’s the power of white supremacy. It will protect itself, no matter what facts to the contrary exist. But the fact remains, if Jesus actually existed (And I’m not convinced he did), he probably looked a lot more like Oded Fehr than Jim Caviezel.
Given the ways Christianity has been used against black people, why don’t I just outright condemn the religion as a whole? Well, that’s the thing: In spite of everything, Christianity actually HELPED black people. Yeah, you read that right. That’s what I love about black people- we can take what’s meant to harm us and turn it into gold. Just like we took the leftover parts of the pig from Ol’ Massa’s table and made soul food, we took his bible and made it our own. That book gave hope to the oppressed, and when your life is a living hell, you take hope in whatever form you can find it. Black excellence is taking the religion that was meant to keep us enslaved and making spirituals. Not only did those old songs provide clues to runaways about the next safehouse or stop on the Underground Railroad, but they sounded good too. They sounded so good, we took that sound out of the church and made rock & roll. That’s the power of Black Girl Magic and Black Boy Joy. So, while I have no use for White Jesus and the religion he represents, I respect my brothers’ and sisters’ need for it. After all, it’s what got us through.
But after all this, white Christians, please understand that as you stand on stolen land that was built by people stolen from their land, that your religion played a large role in both thefts. That said, you and your religion owe a debt. The question is, will you pay it or ignore it? Given the history, I know what white supremacy Jesus would do.