Monday, August 3, 2020
Fr. Eduardo Barrios, SJ
A healthy conscience against racism has been awakened worldwide following a sad event: On May 25, 2020, African American George Floyd lost his life under the asphyxiating knee of Aryan police officer Derek Chauvin.
However, the demonstrations against racism have taken a worrying turn. Some protesters have vented their anger at the abuses committed by whites against blacks to the point of attacking historical figures of the caliber of Christopher Columbus and Juan Ponce de Leon. Their statues have been vandalized in Miami.
The anti-racist exaggeration has been traced back to the sacred historical figures of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. Activist Shaun King advocates for the destruction of stained glass windows and images of Jesus, Mary and the apostles because, he says, they symbolize white supremacy.
That man ignores that Christianity was born in the Middle East, a crossroads of continents and races. The biblical characters were not blue-eyed blond-haired people. However, European artists sought to inculturate the Christian faith by depicting the Savior and his Immaculate Mother with racial characteristics specific to the environment in which they lived. This explains why the great works of art exhibited in museums such as the Vatican, Prado and Louvre, to mention but a few, represent Jesus and Mary as white, and also incur anachronisms related to architecture and clothing.
King also ignores that in Far Eastern countries such as Japan, Korea and China there are churches where the sacred images of Jesus and Mary have distinctly Oriental color and facial features. The same is true of the statues and pious images sculpted and painted in Africa, which show Jesus and Mary as black. It is a way of emphasizing that the Son of God became incarnate to save all the peoples of the world.
There is a famous American actor of indefinable racial complexion named Vin Diesel. When a journalist asked him about his ethnic origins, he replied that he was of the human race. Just as it is not a sin to be born black, neither is it a sin to be born white, Asian or mixed race. Racial prejudice will end when all men and women on the planet consider themselves and others as simply human.