Friday, March 8, 2013

Black God Vs.White God

Religion has always been a defining factor in American life, particularly in the life of Black people, affecting the Civil Rights Movement in extremely important ways. One interesting point made by James Baldwin in "Fire Next Time" is the difference between the "Black God" and the "White God" which expresses the different religious beliefs practiced by Black Americans in the United States. This is particularly interesting because one doesn't usually associate God, however Baldwin illustrates several complex ideas with this distinction.

One of these things he does is shows the divide between Black and Whites during the 1960's. Due to the complete segregation of American life, people live on separate sides of the color line which is not restricted to religion. This is the reason that Baldwin mentions that many people believe Blacks to be the cursed children to Ham which for much time had been a justification for slavery and the control of Black life.

Baldwin quickly dismisses this point as well as many religious notions however the story of Ham and his descendants being forced to be slaves is very interesting. This is of particular interest to me because in Black neighborhoods and churches there are many billboards and signs that depict a White Jesus being surrounded by Black followers. This is not uncommon, nor to my knowledge, seen with any grand contempt by community leaders.  Race is this context is being used as a ploy to promote White superiority and Black inferiority through a message that isn't very subtle.  A white man is depicted as being the savior of all Black people and in many instances this how people view and have always viewed Jesus.

I would really like to know what you all think about this?  Is it problematic that many Christians follow the "White God" the same God which has been used as a justification for slavery and Black repression?  The Nation of Islam takes great issue with this many times referring to people who follow an invented "White God" which causes them to hate everything about themselves because they cannot visually identify with everything that they aspire to be.  This adds to everything that we grow up seeing in the media which purports White superiority.

Do you think color affects the way that one worships or views the God that they are worshipping?  Should Jesus or God be depicted as a white man with blue eyes, especially in Black neighborhoods?

1 comment:

  1. Well, when you think about it.... Who translated the word we now know as the bible? Who thought it their duty to take christianity to Africa and teach those people about god in their way? Who told those people that the god they knew was wrong? Who taught us to bow down and not fight back? I believe that God is God. He is nature. He just is. "They" gave Him a name. "They paint the pictures. "They" depict Jesus as white even though he is described in the bible. The bible could have said the messiah's hair was long white & silken like horse mane or any other animal. But it describe as woolen. I believe God is God. I just do not believe the white spin that was placed upon Him in the translations and descriptions that the anglo-saxons created.