What do you see when you look at this picture of Jesus, called “Hope for the World?” No doubt at the time (1915) it was intended as a message that Jesus loves all of us. But the image is actually a great example of a “White Jesus”—a falsely Europeanized version of Jesus that serves to perpetuate white supremacy within the Christian church. It is also telling, given the time this was painted, that the Black child is the only person without clothes and whose face is completely hidden from the viewer.
This photo was one of the things that stood out to me during the Zachariah Walker Racial Justice Symposium I had the pleasure of attending this past weekend. (The symposium was named for a Black man who was lynched in Coatesville, PA on Sunday, August 13, 1911. May he Rest In Peace.)
The symposium speakers talked about systemic racism, the history of white supremacy in the Christan church, the existence of racism within the UCC, and the responsibility of, and the reluctance of, white people to dismantle systemic racism. I took extensive notes on things I hope to incorporate into our antiracism efforts, as well as several ideas for books to add to our church library. (I am happy to share the notes if you drop me an email at marentetteL@yahoo.com — they are just too messy and long to include in the newsletter.)
And now, for some housekeeping. I’d like to find a name for this section of the newsletter and the effort in general. I have received several suggestions: • The Work (my personal favorite—short and to the point, and well understood within antiracism circles of work that white people need to do) • Social Justice Salon • Antiracism Alley • Social Justice Salutations • Agnus DEI (play on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) • Antiracism Now • Jesus is for Social Justice • 1 Corinthians 12:26
Please send a vote to me at the above email of your favorite name. - Lenore Marentette