White Jesus indoctrination vs. Black Jesus on the Margin

Indoctrinated Jesus with his mother.

Jesus is dread?

Yohanna 14:2 “A chikin gidan ubana akwai wurin zama dayawa; da ba haka ba, da na fada muku; gama zan tafi garin in shirya maku wuri.” ( Da ka Litafi Mai-Tsarki , Hausa)

or In English,

John 14:2 “in my father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? ” ( New Revised Standard Version)

Growing up in Middle-belt, Nigeria my parents encouraged my siblings and I to attend Sunday School, there we learned stories from the Bible and also our teachers emphasized memorizing important scriptures. The passage I quoted is amongst the Bible verses that played a role in how I interpreted scripture as a young girl. After memorizing John 14:2 in Hausa, I was convinced that Jesus was a member of my family, the imagery that the passage created in my head gave me the comfort that I was in fact a child of God.

However, As I grow older, I noticed that the father of the many mansion which the scripture talked about was a long haired, pale skin, blue eyed man, he looked nothing like my family members. In fact not even close to my relatives that lived in the city who bleached their skin and wore fake blonde wigs.I recall asking my siblings while we were watching the popular “Jesus of Nazareth’ a film that narrated the primary gospels in Jesus’ Ministry: His Birth, death and Resurrection, I asked why is it that Jesus is White and satan a black snake? My siblings told me that, the Jesus in the film was simply a character but then I asked why is it then that He must be “bature” in Hause (white ), the answer to that question was interrupted with a call from mother to help her lift a bag of rice.

The quest to find out reasons as per why Jesus the father in the mansion with many rooms was white contributed to my decision to study Christian theology and Religion in general. As a young girl, I asked tough questions about Christology, desiring to know who Jesus was, why His ministry was important and what that meant for me, a bili (black girl in my language Yotti).

As I search for Jesus through my study and discourse with others, I discovered  that there is in fact a Jesus who looked like me. This Jesus is portrait with dark complexion, long dread-locks and a body built like a football (soccer) player;  however,  this Jesus is found amongst  the marginalized in our global family, those who believe in the up lift of black global family and the unity of mankind. The black Jesus has a presence amongst Afro-centric / African Independent Churches/ black Christians on the continent of Africa and in the diaspora. I read a number of articles and books regarding blacks interpretation of John 12:2 “In my Father’s house are many mansions …” B.G.M. Sundkler, argues in his 1961, “Bantu Prophets in South Africa” that the reason why blacks seem to be attracted to “Christ in their own image’, is due to the fact that they desired legitimacy or guarantee for the fate of their race (p.276). One could interpret Sundkler’s argument that Black Christians seem to want to take ownership of the Bible. To go further with the critique against depicting Christ as a black man, Pieter Oosthuuizen labels this tradition as “Post-Christian” which means it is neither Christian nor traditional. He believes the embracement of Christ as a Black man, their “ethnocentric features make them forfeit any claim to be the Church of Christ” ( See “ Black Messianism: Corruption or Contextualization?” In All things hold Together: Holistic Theologies of the African Grassroots” p.132).

To complement Oosthuuizen’s statement, Martin suggests that these sort of ideologies amongst black liberation theologians is rampant amongst South Africans and that they are faulty eschatology as well as false Christology, Pneumatology and ecclesiology” ( “ Black Messianism: Corruption or Contextualization?” In All things hold Together: Holistic Theologies of the African Grassroots”,p.133). In order words, if Christ is embodied by Africans then their claim to that narrative is un-Christian. M.L. Daneel , in response to the criticism against the Black Christ, calls for a deeper reflection by the theologians critics, expressing that Christ is not being replaced by Black Christians but rather a mirror through which they ( Black Christians) would want to be reflected (see “ Black Messianism: Corruption or Contextualization?” In All things hold Together: Holistic Theologies of the African Grassroots”p. 132) . As far as Daneel is concern the Christian calling is to desire for Christ to take over and to be reflected in the life of a believer .

I would say, the black Christ is an attempt from African Christians to make Christ relevant; they  wished to experience Christ in their own language and in the image in which God created them, along side acknowledging  Christ’s presence amongst those who don’t look like them.  One must understand that, this Jesus of Nazareth that the gospel talks about is no “white man” ,  the reason why  the white, pale Jesus is  pervasive  is due to the fact that, as a friend nicely expressed,  ” those in power define who your God is and what  that god must look like”, through the work of colonization/ globalization and world mission, Western Christians enforced Christ as a “white man”, that legacy still have a presence amongst Africans.

Those who dispute against portraying Jesus as a black man must  not be aware of the history of Christianity on the continent of Africa. In order for Jesus Christ  to be presence amongst all people, He should not be  a distance white man who seem very disconnected with the reality of the African world.I would encourage parents to expose their children to a  contexualized interpretation of scripture ( the Bible) because it would opportune them in  seeing themselves as worthy human beings who were molded by the very hands of the God who they are growing to love, just as their white  or brown counterparts. I would contend that this is  the only way forward in continuation to build up black consciousness and the determination to look within for the empowerment of  the community.

©Copyright, Yoknyam Dabale

41 thoughts on “White Jesus indoctrination vs. Black Jesus on the Margin

    • Thanks Bro. Ali ,

      for sharing your thoughts, it is our job, academicians to attempt in enlightening ourselves and those beyond us for the empowerment of all people, by so doing we might all see ourselves as wo/men boys and girls created /love by the Supreme Being, despite our race, gender, sexual orientation, etc etc

      Respect to you,

      Yoknyam

  1. Very well written and thought provoking piece of writing! As a black woman, the image of a black Christ is much more appealing than the white Christ. The Lord is Spirit and He is Truth. He belongs to the whole world, and not just white people. If they have represented His image to look like them, as white people, then how can they truly say that any other representation is false? This makes no sense whatsoever.

    • Sis. Anna,

      you expressed important elements that this post attempts to convey,

      From my reading some Africans ( blacks) don’t feel connected with the White Christ, however, they cling to the White-Christ as a move to look beyond the self, hoping for the distant God to rescue ( particularly the poor amongst us ) , in order words the White Jesus complements how the world is perpetuated by the elites, which means salvation equals to aid, equals to White equals to White Jesus….black is equals to war ( in terms of Africa), equals to rape, equals to destruction,….mind you there are black people who are comfortable with this image, I received protest regarding this piece apparently, the color of Christ doesn’t matter, those critics forget that the whole point is not to claim Christ ethnicity as Black, rather it is the experiential Christ that we are talking about, encouraging our young black peoples to experience Christ in their own way to grow into loving themselves through the image of God….as Desmond Tutu would say, there is no one way of doing theology…theology must speak to the people in which it encounters….

      Thank you for stopping by and contributing, wishing you a lovely day,

      Yoknyam

  2. I also found it weird that in Jesus Christ Superstar, Judas was a black man and no one else in the movie was like that. Why they gotta be that way?

    • Sister Sade,

      you highlighted the point that the piece above attempts to do, it appears in some mainstream media, including that of the religious order, that “black” must be associated with evil, bad, negative etc etc. The reason why this is troubling to those of us trying to uplift our young black girls/boys is that they seem to believe those images perpetuate by media. Given we live in a world that raise its children mostly from the screen T.V, it is tough for one to say otherwise.

      However, I would say that, it is our duty to keep encouraging one another by providing counter, factual, sound reflections , research so that our young ones would not see themselves as savages which is what mainstream does to their formation.I believe there is a way out, always forward, never give up.

      I hope all is well with you dear sis,

      loving thoughts alway from my end,

      Yoknyam

  3. Ohh pple
    Listen to me

    Christians europeans and Christians Arb don’t like to see Jesus Black.

    It’s a psychic problem, Jesus is white, and christians didn’t like the White.
    Ruturne to Story and be sincer with your self.

    **** Acording to Gospel matthew, Jesus was sent only to Beni Israel, and he insult no jewish women as : DOG.

    Non jewish are DOG for Biblical Jesus.

    Weak up.

    • your co-worker is not serious and clearly not familiar with his Bible, even Peter questioned the validity of Jesus’ resurrection. Seeking is finding as to questioning is answering. Do not be afraid and don’t let others limit you. Find yourself thinking people to empower you.

      Respect!

  4. i dont not care the race in which jesus christ belongs to all what i care abt is the he died 4 me and took away ma sin,if jesus is white it doesnt mean all white people will go to heaven and if he is black it doesnt mean all black people will go to heaven. what matters is doing the will of the the one who sent him.jehovah,we should not create division in christianity but we must love one another

    • Kofi,

      no one is forcing you to do anything. if you believe Jesus died for your sins and heaven is all that matters to you, fine!

      However, I am interested in your view, where do you think this Jesus came from ? And I noticed that your name is Kofi which is an African name ( Ghanaian ) before you were a Christian given the history of Christianity in Ghana and Africa as a whole, how did your ancestors encounter this religion? What happened to the religion of your ancestors ( African Traditional Religion/s ), why is it okay for you to accept Christianity a religion forced upon you but not African Traditional Religion/s? And this is even reflected in Ghanaian government today, Kwame Nkrumah is turing in his grave because many of his people in Ghana and the continent have lost the ways of their ancestors. See Traditionalists Disappointed In Gov’t :http://www.modernghana.com/news/386419/1/traditionalists-disappointed-in-govt.html

  5. Well one thing i noticed when reading Exodus 4: 6-7 that this verse is never shown in any movies about Moses. Moses was a Levite. We all know that Egypt was was a land created by the Nubians whom came from Cush whom came from Ham. If this is all truth Paul whom was from the tribe Benjamin was mistaken for being Egyptian wouldn’t that make him black? The angel of God told Miriam and Joseph to take christ child to Egypt to hide from King Herod……. How do you hide a white or “Mediterranean” in the mist of all those black people of the Nile? Not to be trying to prove anything radical but the same bible that was allowed for us to have teaches these very things i just mentioned i wonder if we study the history of the Medes and Persians we understand that the Medes whom came from the north mixed with the Persians from the so called middle east. Another thing we have the Middle east until 1928 after the completion of the Suez canal 1869 before being called that it was eastern Africa. To be honest in my opinion the Bible and the stories we have and those removed from it belongs to the people of the mother land anyway just like America and other culture of Kemet it was all stolen and taken over by Europeans. Europeans believe in the so called Mayan Doomsday but i talked to a Mayan in Progreso Mexico and he told me they did not predict doom but astrological alignments. We need to take back what is ours as African people as well as the people all over the world effected by European/Gentile colonialism. Yoknyamdabale what is your take on the information i just provided and do you in way agree?

  6. …I’m am one to question a lot of things, and I have questioned whether Jesus was white or not. Ms. Yok. I find it very interesting that you study this and I’m glad you bring this topic to light. In essence I guess the race,or even cultural background of Jesus do not matter, but what He taught us and what He did for us matter. A black Jesus does seem ideal ne? And i get how Black people would be more accustomed
    to His teachings knowing Jesus suffered cruelties that many black people do today.
    The emphasis on the race of Jesus is a tool of mental slavery which has carried through till today, so us questioning and talking about it is a sign of growth. Yet I still stand in the above mentioned “essence”.

  7. I’ll make this quick I personally don’t care about skin color but I care about the nature of Christ it’s spirit not flesh. Jesus was conceive by Mary a Jew by the spirit of GOD the father now saying that we are talking about the middle east I would think most citizens had pretty deep tan LOL who cares????????????????????????? He died on the cross took our sins to hell so we could have ever lasting life isn’t that what’s really important?

    • you are basing your entire life on what others have told you about someone else. The Christian Bible was written by white men with agenda, the book is based on how they interpreted the world. So if non-whites read the book they ought to read it in a manner that empowers them not continue to enslave them…. truth is truth it doesn’t matter who says it but if a distorted version of truth is being told, we need to question it so that we don’t continue spreading and passing it down to our children. Image is everything and as the world becomes more image conscious we cannot continue to tell our Children that Jesus’ color doesn’t matter. Early child education is vital to their later understanding of self….pls read the piece!

      in addition this article supports the above piece..https://yoknyamdabale.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/africans-internalized-self-hate-manifest/

  8. Sister Yoknyam, I come in peace,

    Yours is a wonderful blog of such consistent commitment. I applaud you for your unabashedly beautiful spirit.

    On the question of Black Jesus, I find it rather critical to discuss the historical meaning behind a White Jesus. The scene can be wonderfully painted by understanding the name of “Lake Victoria.” When the Europeans first saw it, the lake had another name. But though knowing and understanding that name, the Europeans re-named it to suit their language.

    We revisit this by seeing how each disciple of Christ has a different name in a lot of languages and translations. You mentioned above “Yohanna” being the Hausa name for “John.” It’s not for me to explore whether “John” is true to the original names; but the implications are ever-present.

    What’s of great importance for this discussion is the deity Dionysus. This was the Ancient Greek name for the Ancient Egyptian deity Osiris (or Asar). What’s interesting and of note is how Horus (or Heru), similar to Jesus, has a birth from immaculate conception, a resurrection, a divine Father (Asar) and is associated with healing. It’s also interesting to note certain differences: Horus had a divine Mother (Aset) and a divine twin sister (Bast.) It’s especially interesting noting the historical Patriarchy of European societies; as opposed the historical Matriarchy of African societies.

    Regardless, it comes to the point of “Black” Jesus. Is Blackness merely a color or is there a spiritual component to it? And after a meticulous review, doesn’t “Jesus” appear to be a “White” (or Whitened) Horus? And what does that say about what spirituality we need to adopt? For instance, if we accepted a Black-skinned Whitened Horus who had no divine Sister or divine Mother, regardless of all else, what else are we really accepting (Patriarchy) or forsaking (Matriarchy?)

    Thank you for this forum and being beautiful,
    I go in peace,

  9. fight racism its the same shantae i think all people are the same not because of colour because said he love all children ,all children of the world red,yellow,black and white all are precious in his sight……………….so haterz ur just wasting time🙂
    AMEN🙂😉

  10. Theirs no point of Jesus being black or white, he is God the second person of the blessed trinity (The Father ,the Son and the Holy Ghost ). Jesus can turn Him self any such color who he wants . We are the image of God theirs nothing that Jesus have that we don’t have. Jesus have nose, we have nose, Jesus have eyes, we have eyes, Jesus have ears, we have ears, Jesus have two hands and legs, we have two hands and legs Jesus eat ,we eat, Jesus poop, we poop, etc . The only thing that Jesus have is that He is God and He sent Him self down came upon Blessed Virgin Mary and became flesh to save our souls from sin, For us to go to Heaven.

  11. I just stumbled upon your blog and think the topic at hand is interesting.

    Jesus was born a Jew, so wouldn’t his ethnicity be Jewish (not necessarily Black or White, but something Middle Eastern)?

  12. What is really important is that Jesus gave up his perfect life in Heaven to be born on earth to be our Teacher , Helper , Friend and Guide . Jesus didn’t have to die for our sake , but he chose to because he loves us and has compassion for us . He came to the world to save us . It is the kindness and genuine love of Jesus that really matters . Jesus himself would be saddened of people fighting over race and missing the reason why he came to earth .

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