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Controversy Over Black Baby Jesus Shows Depiction of Christ Is Still a Politically-Charged Issue

This black doll in the nativity scene on display in MP Lizzie Blandthorn's Pascoe Vale office has some locals seeing red.

This black doll in the nativity scene on display in MP Lizzie Blandthorn’s Pascoe Vale office has some locals seeing red.

People often argue that it shouldn’t matter what color Jesus Christ is, but hackles are raised when he is portrayed as anything other than white. This is what’s happening in Pascoe Vale, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, which has generated controversy by displaying a nativity scene with a dark-skinned baby Jesus.

According to The Moreland Leader, Pascoe Vale state Labor Member of Parliament Lizzie Blandthorn said the figure, displayed in her office window, is a more historically-accurate depiction of Christ. She said the display had been well-received so far.

“It’s a very multicultural community and people are pleased to see a multicultural presentation of the nativity,” she said. “Some people have suggested it wasn’t appropriate because it was dark-skinned, but my view is it’s more historically accurate given the part of the world in which the nativity happened.”

Even though Jesus is usually portrayed as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian in Western art, religious scholars say, judging by the place he was born and the people who lived there, he most likely would have been a dark-skinned Middle Easterner. The Archdiocesan Vicar General Monsignor Greg Bennett also supported this view. He told The Moreland Leader Jesus was Jewish, so he would have looked like the people of the Middle East.

“However, throughout the centuries, the images of the Holy Family in art, sculpture and windows have reflected the diverse cultures of the world and therefore the depictions of the Holy Family have reflected this reality,” Bennett said. “Jesus was born for all people — all nations — in history for history.”

However, not everyone is happy about the dark-skinned baby Jesus in the Pascoe Vale nativity scene. Local resident Maria, who didn’t give her last name, told The Moreland Leader she didn’t like the display because it was “changing what Jesus was.”

“I’m not saying he would have been blue-eyed and blonde, but I don’t think he would have been that black either,” she said. “It sounds like I’m being racist but I’m not. I’m Italian, I was born here, and I used to get called a dago — I don’t like racism.”

Twitter user XanderAngelis again raised the point that Jesus’ color should be immaterial.

“Why am I seeing people arguing about what colour Jesus was. It doesn’t matter if he was white, black, brown, green or purple,” he tweeted.

The controversy over the Pascoe Vale nativity scene shows how politically charged the depiction of Jesus can be. It seems many people get bent out of shape any time he is portrayed as anything other than a white man.

Tim Wise, an American anti-racism educator and author, said the image of Jesus has changed over the centuries. However, some of the first images of Jesus, found in the catacombs under Rome, depict him as dark-skinned. Also, early images from the Roman Empire, which helped spread Christianity across Europe, show him as a man of color. But over the centuries that image has changed to what is the now standard Caucasian features. Wise said there is a political reason for this.

“The image of a white Jesus has been used to justify enslavement, conquest, colonialism, the genocide of indigenous peoples,” he said in a CNN interview. “There are literally millions of human beings whose lives have been snuffed out by people who conquered under the banner of a white god. “

“So long as our culture pictures Adam, Eve, Moses, Jesus, Mary, the Apostles, and even God ‘himself’ as fair-skinned, despite the obvious preposterousness of such representations, we will continue to plant the seeds of racial supremacy in the hearts and minds of millions,” Wise said.

What people are saying

11 thoughts on “Controversy Over Black Baby Jesus Shows Depiction of Christ Is Still a Politically-Charged Issue

  1. Susy Homes says:

    Some ppl are just in denial because although his color shouldn't matter it's been scientifically proven that the first human was a African so therefore that being so if you believe what the bible says the GOD made man in HIS image then it's obvious what color HE is and just as well baby JESUS…Some ppl would rather live with what they believe to be a beautiful lie rather than live in the beautiful truth…

  2. Bill Wenham says:

    Jesus was a figment, not a pigment.

  3. If the Jesus story has any truth to it, he was a dark brown man with wooly hair…he was African! It is these deluded white supremacists with their christofascist beliefs that insist on a fictional blond haired blue eyed "savior." Come out of your stupor folks! Your religion is really a cult and you have been brainwashed.

  4. I so love the way you put that..

  5. White supremacy is blasphemous idolatry and demonic paganism!

  6. Gale Lett says:

    Jesus was not black. He was a Semite, not a Sub-Saharan Negroid.

  7. Gale Lett says:

    Jesus was not black. He was a Semite, not a Sub-Saharan Negroid. Most of the depictions we see of a white Jesus were created by white Europeoans. He was depicted that way because it made the depiction easier to relate to. Most educated Christians know he was not white skinned and blond haired. He had slightly darker skin and dark hair, just like all Semites did.

  8. Gale Lett If he existed, which I doubt, and were a "local" he would have been what we now call "black." Your post is based in your religious indoctrination. Wake up.

  9. JoAn Evans says:

    Gale Lett you're a liar – that is one reason Christianity is doubted because of these basic LIES…founded by racism, narcissistic selfishness and evil hatred, yes. How can anyone believe Christians about anything when you can't even tell the truth about this? Especially when it is so obvious to anyone with half a brain.

  10. Jalil Rabb says:

    jesus is not even real hes a story book charachter

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