December 2013, Megyn Kelly of Fox News infamously reassured children that Santa Claus and JESUS were white.
Wow…so wrong. Ok…its not just wrong in a we don’t talk about Jesus’ race kind of way. It is actually historically in accurate. Right? Jesus was a middle eastern Jew. Oppressed by the Roman government, not a person operating from a position of power and not a caucasian as in from Europe. And even the historical St.Nicholas was Greek from the region now known as Turkey.
But I can remember being a kid and going into a sweet African American grandmas home in the government projects of Atlanta and seeing a framed picture of White Jesus. Even as a twelve year-old than weirded me out. And years later in a one room slum in India I saw the same picture. What a disservice to those families that though they embrace the good news of Jesus, they received him as white man! What a white man represents to both of those cultures is comes with baggage of opression.
Let me also take this further. Perhaps when white people assume that Jesus was(is) white, we are missing out on knowing the real Jesus. I don’t know about you, but as a follower of Jesus I want to know the real guy. When we assume he is just like us, we miss the subtly of many of his words and the challenge the gospel presents to us to pick up our crosses and follow him.
There has been a huge push in the last few years, beginning with an international twitter campaign that became a nonprofit saying #Weneedmorediversebooks. And, I believe as followers of Jesus we ought to be leading the charge. What if every bible storybook and Christian bedtime story you could find portrayed Jesus and other bible characters as people of color (since they were) and children of diverse backgrounds?
What if we created books that could serve as a mirrors and windows for all God’s children? See Newsweek. Largely today, white children only see themselves in books and never see into the world and children of color only see a world that is not their own, rather than seeing a reflection of what they can be. This has got to change if we believe that Jesus loves all the children of the world. the gospel is not the good news unless it is the good news for all people.
As I said on my Facebook Live video last night, I am committed to collecting and creating diverse bible story-books. If this is a need that is felt in your family, church, community and you want to be a part of it. Let me know.