Happy Passover... Have A Black Jesus.
April 13, 2006 9:44 AM   Subscribe

It seems like it'd be more (presumably) accurate and effective given the current political climate to make Jesus middle eastern.
posted by null terminated at 9:57 AM on April 13, 2006

I'm sure it'll get some flak for lines like "Die, you Black Jew!" and "Do you think they're doing this because he's Black?", but I would actually like to see it.

I'm more interested, though, in Son of Man:
In the state of Judea in southern Africa, violence, poverty and sectarianism are endemic.

The democratic Alliance has invaded to restore ‘peace’ at gunpoint. Bloody street battles accompany the occupation. Promises of a transition to open democratic rule accompany summary executions and brutal massacres.

As the civil war reaches a new level, a divine child is born to a lowly couple. As he grows and witnesses the inhumanity of the world he lives in, his angelic guardians offer him an escape to the heavens. He refuses. This is his world and he must try to save it from the work of evil men and from the darkness working through them.

As an adult, he travels to the capital, gathering followers from the armed factions of rebels that criss-cross the land. He demands that his followers give up their guns and confront their corrupt rulers with a vision of non-violent protest and solidarity. Inevitably, he attracts the attention of the Judean Elders who have struck a power-sharing deal with the aloof Governor Pilate.

The Son of Man must be brought down and destroyed. It should be another simple ‘disappearance’ like any other…

Son of Man.

The story of the Gospels re-told as a tale of corruption and redemption in contemporary Africa.

Filmed in the township of Khayelitsha and in the Eastern Cape, this new and adventurous interpretation of the Christian message was filmed by Mark Dornford-May (Golden Bear, Berlin 2005 – U-Carmen) with the pioneering DDK theatre troupe and choir network. As with his first film – the classic opera Carmen translated into the Xhosa tongue - the original yet traditional dance, songs and rhythms infuse Son of Man with the life and spirit that really cuts its own voice to speak.
posted by Alt F4 at 10:00 AM on April 13, 2006

This isn't an angry missive, and I'm not one of the usual idiots. (I might be an unusual idiot.)

Why would a film about him "blur the lines that divide blacks and Jews?" It's the Christians who consider him to be God (for varying defintions of "be.") Statistically, there must have been a lot of Jews all over the world for whom the Shulchan Aruch was their last meal.
posted by jdfalk at 10:09 AM on April 13, 2006

Alt F4: Thanks! That sounds like a good film. I live in Eastern Cape. Drove through Khayelitsha a couple weeks ago.
posted by Goofyy at 10:16 AM on April 13, 2006

My favorite wrapping paper, and some that I wish I could get more of, is one that depicts Santa as black. Turkish, I'd get (kinda), but it seemed so absurd that I couldn't let go of it.
posted by klangklangston at 10:49 AM on April 13, 2006

It's always seemed a bit absurd to me: all these translucent white people running around in the ancient middle east for years. What with all that time outdoors (fishing, wandering the desert and such) they must have had terrible sunburns, or actually been somewhat less northern european looking.

That 'angry missives' link - whoah.
posted by freebird at 11:08 AM on April 13, 2006

There are plenty of black Jews. Israel airlifted a bunch of them to Israel from Ethiopa a few decades ago, and I grew up seeing images of the so-called Falashas in my synagogue (they call themselves "Beta Israel"), as well as seeing several black congregants. Yaphet Kotto is Jewish. So it's just not that odd for white Jews to see blacks participating in Jewish rituals.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:14 AM on April 13, 2006

Jesus was Jewish, right? Wouldn't that make his skin tone somewhere between white and olive?

That's besides the point, though.

I once got into an argument with my conspiracy-theory-loving ex-roommate about this very subject. He was convinced that Jesus was black, and any ideas to the contrary were (like everything else) the work of some vast, international (possibly Jewish) conspiracy. My argument was that nearly every culture/ethnicity has re-cast Jesus as being "one of theirs." I think this sort of thing is totally fine as long as people admit that Jesus's ethnicity has absolutely nothing to do with the teachings of Christianity. You could cast Jesus as an aboriginal Australian native, and it wouldn't change the message of the bible at all.

Although he couldn't think of any ways that Jesus being black would change the message of the bible, he still fought me tooth and nail on this issue, and eventually I gave up.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:22 AM on April 13, 2006

An article on a site called whitecivilrights.com by Jeff Davis. Heh.
posted by pax digita at 11:22 AM on April 13, 2006

Why would a film about him "blur the lines that divide blacks and Jews?"

jdfalk, there's actually pretty strong prejudicial divisons between the black (well, African-American) and Jewish communities. Didn't always used to be that way, but at least where I live there's some pretty prevalant anti-Semitism and racism bouncing around in those groups.
posted by schroedinger at 12:10 PM on April 13, 2006

I don't see how Jesus being portrayed as a member of any particular race would have much of an impact on a Jewish person? Jews don't have any reason to be concerned with Christian images.
posted by gnat at 12:18 PM on April 13, 2006

whitecivilrights.com crached my Firefox browser. But there's no way I'm senting that URL to Talkback.
posted by Kronoss at 12:31 PM on April 13, 2006

Gah. What's this spell check again?
posted by Kronoss at 12:51 PM on April 13, 2006

try clearing your crache.
posted by hypocritical ross at 12:57 PM on April 13, 2006

George Bush doesn't like Black Jesus.
posted by ninjew at 1:27 PM on April 13, 2006

From White Civil Rights: "One of the producers is the “Reverend” Cecil “Chip” Murray, who during his 12 years as pastor at L.A.’s First AME Church “used his pulpit to become a national religious and civil-rights leader.” (I wonder if that means he’s in the same corporate extortion racket as old Jesse.) In the past, Murray’s services have attracted the likes of corrupt debauchee and cocaine addict Bill Clinton, terrorist/murderer Nelson Mandela and America’s favorite molester, Michael Jackson." (emphasis added)

"Jeff" Davis really needs to learn how to "veil" his "contempt" a little better. Then he can get the job at FOXNews he's been pining for.

PS - seriously, Jeff Davis is a pen name, right?
posted by illovich at 1:55 PM on April 13, 2006

Bad news for Madonna, apparently.
posted by dhartung at 2:18 PM on April 13, 2006

Well, maybe Jesus was black. We don't have any descriptions of him.

Oh, wait. We have one. A weird, contested one from one translation of Joespheus that has Jesus looking like Quasimodo:

"a man of simple appearance, mature age, dark skin, small stature, three cubits high, hunchbacked with a long face, long nose, and meeting eyebrows, so that they who see him might be affrighted, with scanty hair with a parting in the middle of his head, after the manner of the Nazarites, and with an undeveloped beard."
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:30 PM on April 13, 2006

If you wanna be happy for the rest of your days
Never give a pretty prophet your praise
So from my personal point of view
Get an ugly Christ to die for you

posted by gigawhat? at 3:15 PM on April 13, 2006

Everybody knowzes The Jebus wuz a Chinese.
posted by tkchrist at 3:17 PM on April 13, 2006

Anthropologically? As an Anthro and a Jew, let me postulate that Early Hebrews were probably darker than modern Hebrews. More Egyptian and Nubian blood, and North Africans probably had more "White" in them, but these folks lived in the Mediterranean area where olive skin was considered normal. Romans didn't give a hoot about black skin - it was just another "foreign" signal untl one became loyal to Rome.

The idea that "white" (as opposed to "Olive") is important dates from around just after Shakespeare's time, and is linked to the origin of the "Anglo-Saxon Ideal."

Racist notions - especially racial separation - are set so deep in American thinking that a topic like this is like catfish bait to the American Christian right wing, and they would not even notice it. Such notions are really unique to the US conception of race. I am not saying that racism doesn't exist elsewhere, but if you live in the US, this kind of thinking , that "Jesus might be darker complexioned with kinky hair" is pretty guaranteed to set of a US media shitstorm.

I actually think that Americans aren't as racist as they seem to be portrayed in the media. American politcs are different - the right wing needs to maintain a racist undertone in order to keep the South from questioning why it abandoned the Democrats (under Clinton!!!!) for the Republicans....

I think that the US political system needs to maintain the old Racist code to keep their voting base predictable.
posted by zaelic at 3:53 PM on April 13, 2006

The davis article seems really to be the one worthy of attention here... Holy crap, how does this guy wake up and step outside in the morning? He obviously knows very little about the biblical history that I spent the last 6 years studying. What in the world is he getting at when he mentions that Blacks just recently came out of the jungle? We are all descendants of Noah, right? Ignorance sucks.
posted by everett at 4:33 PM on April 13, 2006

for a minute i thought this was about the Black Israelites (they shout and curse on street corners in various cities, and just last night had a big Passover seder on 34th street.)

I don't see why he thought we'd care about Jesus' color. Blacks and Jews have trouble because of economic and class reasons, and have drifted apart since the early civil rights days--it's a shame.
posted by amberglow at 4:45 PM on April 13, 2006

Yeah, don't get me started on black/Jewish relations. (For those who are really interested in my experiences, check out the AskMe that I linked to above)

I agree that it's a shame that blacks and Jews don't band together more. However, I think that it exposes the truth about American race relations - it isn't about skin color, it's about social class. American Jews, on the average, are (slightly) better off economically then most statistical minorities. African-Americans, however, have a history of being economically (and socially) disadvantaged. Some African-Americans cannot find it in their hearts to sympathize with Jews because we're doing better then they are economically. (never mind the fact that this always fails to come in handy whenever the next holocaust/pogrom rolls around) Some American Jews look down on African-Americans for all the same reasons that economically-advantaged people typically look down on economically-disadvantaged people. (never mind the fact that their great-grandparents very likely made a living selling shmattes out of a cart in the Lower East Site)

People in America will talk about skin color. They'll even joke about it. Hell, they'll perform stand up comedy routines about it. When was the last time you saw a comedian joke about classism, though?
posted by Afroblanco at 6:24 PM on April 13, 2006

When was the last time you saw a comedian joke about classism, though?
The rich in this country do none of the work, and pay none of the taxes. The middle class does most of the work, and pays all of the taxes. The poor are there just to scare the shit out of the middle class. Keep 'em showing up at those 'jobs'. -- George Carlin
The audio is funnier.
posted by boaz at 6:32 PM on April 13, 2006

"Blurring the lines" that divide humans is a small start in the correct direction.

I say to "Jeff Davis" that we totally erase them you racist piece of &%$@ scum.

Jesus was killed as much for hanging out with the social outcasts of his day as for anything else, the way I read it.

And, yes, Jesus was Jewish and dark skinned too Jeff Davis so suck on that!

Creating divisions between common folks has always been the province of the powerful and wealthy. Don't want the serfs getting together and uppity! Hell, they might even unionize!
posted by nofundy at 7:10 AM on April 14, 2006

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