Race & Identity
My Beef with White Jesus
The woker I get, the bigger the problem
I think I have beef with White Jesus.
Here’s a disclaimer for those who plan on reading just the title, and the first few lines: yes I’m aware that Jesus was more likely than not, a brown Jewish man from the Middle East. That being said, I’m referring to White Jesus as the commercialized and whitewashed version of Christianity that has been used to colonize, exploit and pacify minorities and people of color for hundreds of years.
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The more I read, and study, and question, the harder it’s becoming to reconcile my relationship with Christianity as it is today. It’s conflicting because for as long as I can remember, I’ve been bombarded with images of this sandy-brown-haired, blue-eyed, White man in one of two poses: his arms extended, 2C curls effortlessly blowing in the wind, and surrounded by “misfits” (which ironically enough look more like me than this White Jesus character) or somber, with one thug tear as he saves my soul from every sin I have committed, and any other future transgression. White Jesus is a saviour. He saved us from ourselves, and without this man (another problematic point, but, one thing at a time), we’d be lost. So be kind, stay humble, and say thank you since you’re alive because of him alone.
This is the main message drilled into so many impressionable minds, time, and time again. Have you ever listened to a song so many times that after a while, the words get distorted? Somewhere along the way, it seems as though White Christians have not only altered Christ to mirror them in image and likeness, they’ve also appropriated omnipotence, purity and justice along the way. Many White Christians believe themselves to be God’s spokesperson incarnate, Jesus’s second-cousin from his mama’s side, and of course, the enforcers of God’s will. No matter the approach-- whether through missionary work, or straight-up coercion-- the message is the same. Listen to me, I’m White, I’m blessed, God obviously likes me, and I’ve been sent here to save you from yourself-- by any means necessary.
That’s a problem for me, and I know I’m not the only one.
My main qualm with Westernized Christianity is that it has been used for hundreds of years as a measuring stick to determine-- but mostly negate-- the humanity of minority peoples. By beating individuals into submission, and calling it love, White Christians have brainwashed, and whitewashed generations of POC’s traditions. They hold Christianity above our heads and taunt us as if to say, leave your trifling ways behind, follow us, and maybe, we’ll accept you.
So people drink the kool-aid. They drink the kool-aid, and then White Christians move the mark further and further away. It's obvious: White Jesus is not the answer to POC gaining equality, respect and acceptance in this world no matter how lightly we tread, how peacefully we protest, or how enthusiastically we pray, sing, and worship.
Does anyone else find it infuriating when White people tell POC and minorities groups how to be? When they suggest staying calm, turning the other cheek (knowing good and well, the next slap isn’t too far away) and imply that our incessant suffering is somehow a part of White Jesus’s master plan? When White conservatives judge, belittle and hate and throw a “in the name of Jesus” on the end of some ridiculous tirade, it’s conflicting to me as a woman of color, because in theory, we’re repping the same “team”. Frankly, I’m tired of White people telling minority peoples what to say, and how to behave.
I’m taking a step back from White Jesus and all his radical henchmen because in all honesty, I find it extremely improbable that the millions people who worship God in all its many forms, in dozens of languages, all over this vast world are just wrong. I’m simply not convinced. Those who control and manipulate language have power, and it’s time that I get a second, third, or even fourth opinion and define my own relationship with God (or Allah, or Buddha, or the Creator). I’m choosing to put the kool-aid down, and gain perspective. A perspective that was once limited by those seeking to “teach” and “help” me into a religion that in reality, I never chose for myself. Forgive me for harping on semantics, but a truly omnipotent being can take on many names, forms, and meanings that go beyond the comprehension of even the most well-intentioned missionaries or curbside prophets. So yeah, I have beef with White Jesus, and the do-gooding crusaders who try to use religion as a means of exploitation and colonization, but I do, however, believe in cultivating spirituality. I plan to read, and question, and challenge myself to unlearn things I once accepted as gospel. I invite you all to do the same. Or don’t. Choice is a beautiful thing.