If you do a Google search for “God”, 72% of the images that show up will be white. Finding a picture of Jesus that is NOT white is, likewise, difficult.
Why is this a problem? And what does it have to do with equipping children in Kingdom dynamics?
Jesus was-and is- a Jewish man. The truth is, He did not have blonde hair and blue eyes. He did not look like me.
If I am telling my children that the Word of God is 100% true- without error-shouldn’t the way I’m representing it matter? If I’m telling them that Goldilocks and the Three Bears is pretend, but Moses and the Burning Bush is real; That Little Red Riding Hood is pretend, but Joshua and the battle of Jerico actually happened, shouldn’t I do my best to be accurate in my depictions of the truth I’m presenting?
And if I tell them that Jesus is absolutely, 100% real-the Son of God and desiring to be their best friend- shouldn’t I depict Him accurately?
Making God Into Our Own Image
Humanity through the ages has been guilty of attempting to make God into their own image. Of trying to fit Him into a box that they are comfortable with. THIS IS NOT OKAY. White Jesus is an extension of this line of thought and is therefore harmful to our thought process regarding God and our relation to Him.
Let’s break the cycle with our children.
Not only is it harmful for children of color to see pictures of white Jesus everywhere they look- a Jesus and a God that not only doesn’t look like them but resembles people who have oppressed their people historically- but it’s also harmful to white children.
White children who see white God and white Jesus at every turn are far more likely to develop unconscious negative bias toward people of color. The “other” that doesn’t look like the team that God and themselves are on. It’s not intentional. They and we don’t even know it’s happening, but it is. And it effects how they see and treat their brothers and sisters who look differently than they do.
How Do We Combat This?
Start early! It’s difficult to find images of Jesus that are not white, but it’s not impossible. They’re out there. Begin to expose your children to more accurate images of Jesus from an early age.
Talk about the fact that Jesus was born Jewish. Look at pictures of Jewish people. Get to know their customs and traditions.
The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible is a story Bible that depicts biblical characters in more accurate skin tones. This is a great resource!
Here is a poem from my friend Angie Stumbo to make us think:
I’m not a white bread Jesus,
made by your model,
made in your image.
You strip out my nutrients⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
bleach out my color⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Make me look more like ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
your twin brother.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
You strip me down,⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Take away my crown.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Turn me into a lecturer,⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Study me like a professor.
But what I want is to be your friend.
You process out the grit I’m about,
Damper my divinity through your shroud of doubt.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
My name is Holy, Perfect is my name.
I lived as you live and I relate to your pain.
I did it so I can be where your heart mends.
Stop keeping me small,⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Displayed under glass.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I’m not afraid of your mistakes
Afraid of your past.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Don’t try to sand smooth⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
My Living Word edge.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Don’t make my sword soft⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Dull my sharp dividing edge.
I’m so much more.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I’m love and division.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I’m compassion and offense.
I feel what you feel
but My name will mend.
Don’t blur the focus on the⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
confrontation I birthed⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
when I defied the dark powers
and their motives unearthed.
I did it all to secure your new birth.
But make no mistake I’m no white bread Jesus.
I’m power and passion,⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
grit and fire.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I’m more than you can know, want, or desire.⠀⠀
I’m all and everything my father pleases.
But I’ll never be your white bread Jesus.