Had American media, that stalwart bastion of cowardice, been honest about two historic images — just two — the country, hell, the world would be a vastly different place. Specifically, realistic images of Jesus Christ and of the Statue of Liberty.
Can you imagine White people around the planet being disabused of the notion that the most famous spiritual leader of all time looked like them? Particularly in the U.S., consider Caucasian folk from sea to shining sea not having their delusions of superiority reinforced by that historic figure hanging on the cross in church.
And think how differently America would look at Black people had all this while, off the Eastern Seaboard, that towering construction portrayed the glistening visage of an African woman.
The closest the screen has ever seen to Jesus Christ being played by a Black actor is Blair Underwood in the 1992 short independent film The Second Coming — the premise being authorities accuse a Black man wearing dreadlocks who calls himself Jesus of being a lunatic. There have been more movies made about Jesus Christ than you can shake a stick at, yet this is the best American cinema can do in this day and age?
You do realize that people who say Jesus was Black aren’t lunatics, haven’t gone off the deep end, and are not hare-brained extremists. Well, some are, but they all happen to be right. Look it up.
Even White history no longer leaves out that, from the reign of Justinian II (A.D. 669-711), Christian emperor of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, there is physical evidence. Justinian minted a coin with the image of Jesus Christ stamped on it. That image, preserved today, this very minute residing in the British Museum, is Black.
Don’t take my word — look that up, too. And, while you’re at it, check the Bible where it says, “Behold his feet of bronze” and “hair like wool.” The Holy Scriptures are not talking about somebody with a suntan or someone having a bad hair day.
What ever happened to Underwood’s self-produced project in which he was going to play Jesus, not somebody we think thinks he is? It was announced on, of all major venues, Oprah.
But it came to nothing, for which Oprah Winfrey, the richest and therefore most powerful individual in mass media, is every bit as much to blame as White execs. Winfrey was Black long before she got rich and needed to be first setting this record straight.
The Statue of Liberty that stands out in the middle of New York Harbor, holding that damned torch like a beacon of man’s humanity to man, is testament to just how hateful this country’s beloved founding fathers were and, frankly, how spitefully racist this nation remains.
Do you know the kind of fit Americans, so proud of landing troops on foreign soil to spread freedom wherever there’s oil, do you know the hell they’d raise if the government even thought about changing that image from a White woman back to a Black woman? They would wage civil war to hold on to this image out of nothing more noble than their undying devotion to the delusion of White supremacy.
And our bright, shining affirmative action poster President Barack Obama would wait to see who won before weighing in.
The original statue, designed by a Frenchman named Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, was to be given to America by its ally in the U.S.’s valiant triumph over Britain in pursuit of equality, liberty and justice for all. Bartholdi’s original designs for the statue were based on a proposed monument in Egypt. He used drawings and small-scale models of Black Egyptian women in that project.
Well, it turned out Americans were of the mind that some folk is more equal than others. They took one look at the proposed construction of a Black lady holding the broken shackles of slavery and said, “Oh, no. we ain’t havin’ it!” Okay, so it’s probably not an exact quote.
That is what you have to call colossal chutzpah. France offered the U.S. a beautiful gift that, by the way, had to have cost a pretty penny, and the U.S. said, “We don’t want it. Take it back and give it to us in another color.”
And the media has ignored that ugly truth so the good old U.S. of A. can strut around patting itself on the back for its imaginary dedication to and appreciation of all men, women and children as members of one great big happy family and its love of Freedom — with a capital “F.”
Except the reality is that, when it comes to African Americans, that “F” stands for the shorthand “F.U.”
This column has run previously on the MSR website and is reprinted here at the writer’s request.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.