Shaun King is not wrong.
Wait...hear me out.
On Monday, conservative activist and racism whitesplainer Matt Schlapp warned people who wear shorts to church that tearing down conservative statues will eventually lead to the fall of their beloved country.
Aside from the fact that a relatively obscure book called the Holy Bible specifically warned against this practice of graven images, there is also the fact that many people who are upset by the dismantling of inanimate objects have presented this “slippery slope argument.”
The View’s Meghan McCain stupidly compared the removal of white supremacist monuments to erasing the faces from Mount Rushmore, which was actually carved by a Klansman over a sacred monument owned by the Sioux.
One could argue that arguing for erasing some people’s history while keeping our dirty nigger hands off the things Meghan and Matt care about and is the perfect example of white supremacy, but, again, Meghan McCain is stupid.
But that’s when the man who right-wing activist outlets such as Fox News refer to as a “far-left activist” and “a leading voice in the Black Lives Matter movement,” waded into the fray and gave them what they want.
Goddamnit, now I gotta look at these memes:
While there are more than enough reasons to criticize King (Shaun King, not the King of Kings, Lord of Lords), he’s not wrong. The Gospel of Matthew speaks of the Holy Family’s three-year road trip to Egypt where—according to some scholars—J.C. literally fled a crazy political leader and gained asylum as an undocumented refugee. However, there is no mention of Mary ‘nem going there to “blend in.” White people lived in Egypt, too.
But Shaun is also right to say that statues depicting Jesus are one of the subtle indicators of white supremacy. One of the ways that white supremacy was justified throughout the history of America was to explain that Jesus was a white supremacist. General Robert E. Lee said slavery was a “moral and political evil” that was ordained by a “divine and merciful providence.” In Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson explained that God himself could not produce a Black human being smart enough to be a poet. The first Virginia Charter said the purpose of coming to the New World was “propagating of Christian religion to suche people as yet live in darkenesse and miserable ignorance of the true knoweledge and worshippe of God and may in tyme bring the infidels and salvages living in those parts to humane civilitie and to a setled and quiet govermente.”
In a country founded, as much on the principles of white supremacy as it was on Christianity, the idea of a white Jesus and racism are inextricably intertwined. However, statues of white Jesus are not the reason that inequality persists. If white supremacy is a virus, then monuments to the Caucasian Messiah is a recurring cough. Statues depicting a whitewashed Jesus are simply a symptom of our national disease.
And, while I cannot speak for Black America any more than Shaun King, I would humbly suggest that Black people are perfectly willing to tolerate images of Jesus that slightly resemble Michael Bolton in return for the small favor of white people not killing us.
Call me crazy, but I like working big to small. I’m willing to call for the end to white Jesus after we eliminate disproportionate police brutality, unequal school funding, sentencing disparities, employment inequality, the wage gap, the wealth gap, money bail, stop and frisk, overpolicing Black communities, college debt, marijuana prohibition, the school-to-prison pipeline, homophobia, the sexualization of Black girls, the war on drugs, the war on Black boys, the war on trans women and the war on whole chicken wings (seriously, this “drums vs. flats” controversy has erased the importance of the wing tip)...
Maybe then we can focus on statues of White Jesus.
Because, as it stands, people are treating the symptoms by agreeing to erase episodes of Bugs Bunny, change syrup logos, wear Kente cloth, acknowledge Juneteenth, tweet their appreciation for Black women and stand in solidarity on social media. But police are still killing people, our children are still receiving an unequal education, the criminal justice system is still swallowing us whole and Black Twitter is still posting memes like this:
So, once white supremacy is deleted from America’s operating system, I’d be more than willing to donate a few dollars to the Caucasian Savior Abolition Project’s GoFundMe, if only to witness the outrage from Meghan McCain’s future organization, National Association for the Advancement of Concerned Beckys (NAACB).
But until then, Jesus can wait.
Plus, I’m sure this issue will resolve itself because, as an obscure poet once wrote in a book whose name I cannot recall:
For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
They adorn it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so it will not totter.
Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field,
their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
they can do no harm
nor can they do any good.”
It probably wasn’t Shaun King