On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Detroit riots (1967), I’ve abruptly decided to read a couple books on the subject. John Hersey, in his book The Algiers Motel Incident, urgently recommends reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X, to get a perspective of being on the receiving end of racism in the United States.
Malcolm X describes himself as an atheist, before he began to follow the teachings of Black Muslim leader, Elijah Muhammad. Muhammad created a new religion, a “black religion” with a black god. He described the god of Christianity as the blue-eyed white man’s god, this god himself a blue-eyed white god, etc. For the record, Islamic leaders in the Middle East and elsewhere rejected the validity of Black Islam.
now, the autobiography goes into much deeper detail about all this. But, the problem I’m writing about here is the tendency of Catholics to depict Jesus and Mary racially in popular forms, rather than with more historical basis.
“Mary” in Mexico is depicted unmistakenly as a Native American woman, in Japan, “Mary” is Asian, and in Europe, like at Fatima, “Mary” is this lily white teenager with plucked eyebrows, etc., – nothing like the physical characteristics of a Middle Eastern woman. Mary is seldom depicted as the middle aged Middle Eastern woman that she certainly was, at the time of the crucifixion and until her dormition.
So, my question is, doesn’t the Church create stumbling blocks to evangelization in its not-so-subtle depictions of Jesus and Mary with different physical features than what we know they should be represented as (if at all)?