Let’s talk about representation and diversity today, shall we?
To hear many Christians talk, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with being homosexual. For a smaller amount, one can maybe even be both homosexual and Christian. You’d also think listening to how they talk that some black people are Christians. Or some dirt poor “working class” folks. A single mother, struggling with her English, someone crazily suggests, can be reached by grace. Even some indigenous people, say the missional crew. Now, here me out. Hell, there’s even some gay dirt poor indigenous Mexicans who are Christians. I mean, probably, right? God is just that intense he’ll save people that are very different from normalized White American Middle Class Straight Christians.
This is what passes for diversity in elements of the White US Christian Church. See how diverse we are? See our magnanimousness? We *allow* these elements to represent us like the handful of students from the Asian/Asian-American/Pacific Islander and the La Raza clubs represent Midsize University on their brochures.
And so Church in the White contextual experience still largely centers the world upon itself and still considers itself the best hope for humanity. But its nominal head don’t want no part. Jesus:
I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.
– Matthew 25:42-43
If Jesus identifies directly with the oppressed, why do we consider the Christian experience to be primarily the bodies and minds of white, male, cis-, straight, Anglo, wealthy, educated, able-bodied, housed, normalized people?
But Jesus is a homeless Cuban man we call Carlos. He’s got schizophrenia and a drinking problem, cast out in the cold by a shunning community and a family that can’t deal no more. And he may die of hypothermia tonight. Jesus is a black transwoman who is violently ostracized, threatened, and feared by a people that fail to grasp the mere fact of her humanity and beauty. Jesus has been diagnosed with learning disorders and behavioral problems since he first jumped out of his seat out of boredom, a Hot Cheetos diet, and way too much stress for a five year old. At three in the morning, Jesus rolls out of bed and unwraps five dozen corn husks for tamales she sells this morning and every morning on California Avenue. She hopes to sell them all today just in case her oldest son doesn’t find work today. Jesus is hoping no one will bother him from his spot under the Kennedy by-pass at Logan tonight. Jesus got beat up in high school to the point where he attempted suicide.
Jesus’ default setting isn’t White. He’s extremely unlikely to be found in a middle class setting. He probably doesn’t know how to set a proper table and he likely doesn’t speak Proper English.
This isn’t metaphorical. This isn’t some white liberal fairy-tale to make us feel all fuzzy wuzzy for Christmas and then go back home and repeat the same patterns of meaningless, benign exploitation. Let us once and forever replace the false White Middle Class Jesus with Black Prisoner Jesus and reorder our lives accordingly. This colonial, exploitative world is hell and needs heaven.
I don’t think White Christians should be asking in the reaches of the imagination if it is possible that people of color can truly come to grace.
I think White Christians need to ask if it’s possible for grace to break in to a Christianity so limited, so fragile, so cruel.
It’s a miracle that God gives White Christians grace. Because God don’t look like us.