What color is your Jesus?

Cristo Negro de Esquipulas
Cristo Negro de Esquipulas (2019).

In my research question, I pose the question on how, I, as a Christian, can help in shattering the frozen face of white fragility and talk openly about race. I find it curious that the majority of representations of Christ I see, picture a white Christ. Geographically, I don’t see how Christ could have been white. Christ was middle eastern, so he had to at least be brown, and as far as I am concerned, a black Jesus would make geographical sense. So why do we (white Christians) usually portray Christ as white? Of those pictures that show a black Jesus, most are associated with the crucified Christ versus the everyday living, breathing, eating, and miracle working Jesus (Marsh, 2004). Marsh (2004) posits when  we (white Christians) see pictures of everyday black Jesus, we cannot relate and cannot see ourselves in a crowd of black and brown people following a black Jesus. DiAngelo (2018) would argue that this is a result of our racism being so deeply embedded within our society we are blinded by our own white colored glasses.

Black Jesus
Black Jesus (Marsh, 2013).

When I went back to college at the age of 43 to finish my bachelors and pursue my masters, I did so at a primarily white, fundamental Christian university. As a gay man at a fundamentalist Christian university, it was a challenge to live as an out gay man, but somehow I managed. During my Christian ethics class on the immorality of homosexuality, I found myself asking my professor if I could tell my story, because, quite frankly, I wanted to put a face to the discussion. He agreed only if I would allow questions. I agreed and invariable the nature or nurture question was asked, to which I responded, nature, followed by my normal response. “If you think I chose to be gay, to experience discrimination, to be spit on, to be called faggot, to be thought of less than, then you go out and live one day as an openly gay man then come back and tell me you chose it”.

How is this relevant to the discussion? In a TedTalk on bioethics (Wolpe, 2010) show advances in bioengineering allowing us to change the color of puppies, kittens, monkeys, and pigs. He theorizes that we will eventually be able to change our skin color.

My statement to you is this … if you wouldn’t chose Black, then you might be more racist then you are willing to admit.


Black Christ of Esquipulas. (2019, July 8). In Wikipedia [Photograph]. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Christ_of_Esquipulas

DiAngelo, R. (2018). White fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism. Beacon Press.

Marsh, C. (2004). Black Christs in white Christian perspective: Some critical reflections. Black Theology, 2(1), 45-56

Marsh, K. (2013, March 12). Was Jesus Christ black? [Photograph].  A Do-Good Movement. https://adogoodmovement.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/was-jesus-christ-black/

Wolpe, P. R. (2010, November).  It’s time to question bio-engineering [Video]. TED Conferences. https://www.ted.com/talks/paul_root_wolpe_it_s_time_to_question_bio_engineering

Author: Dr. Cook-Snell

PhD in Education, Instructional Design and Technology, and Lecturer at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA

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