While acknowledging and appreciating Black history this month, let’s consider how faith plays a role in our perspective on race relations. I share below three quick, proactive next steps we can take.
Recognize that Jesus Wasn’t a White Guy
How are the illustrations of Jesus your children seeing impacting their understanding of race? Jesus was a Jewish Palestinian. When we depict him with blonde hair and blue eyes to our children, we rob them of the chance to truly know Jesus. It is a spiritual lesson on idolatry in and of itself when we have conformed Jesus’s appearance to fit our worldview.
The Bible doesn’t share much detail about his appearance, but scientists have offered some guesses. None of us will know for sure on this side of heaven, but dark skin and dark hair is a reasonable first step.
Consider what images of Jesus your child is seeing in books you read. The Jesus Storybook Bible depicts Jesus more realistically. I also appreciate The Children of God Storybook Bible curated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu who offers the following note about the illustrations in his publication.
Look to Black Faith Leaders
Is your adult faith life informed by Black voices? Hopefully, you know of some Black faith leaders in your local networks, but if you don’t have churches around the corner where you can bask in the wisdom of Black leaders, they are within your reach on social media.
Here are a few I follow.
Don’t forget to include worship leaders and musicians. Do you have in your playlist a steady diet of worship music by Black leaders? I have had Man of Your Word on repeat, and loud. A few others to get your searches started …
David Simmons Jr.’s version of Oh Holy Night (Divine) — or at least hit save for next Christmas!
Start Having More Intentional Conversations
Adapt these conversations to fit the stage of development appropriate for your child.
- How did Christians in past generations use scripture to justify slavery?
- Was Jesus ever confronted with injustice? If so, how did he respond?
- What gifts did God create in you that you could use to make our world a more loving place?
With these three tips in mind, you can honor Black History Month in your family’s faith development, not just in February, but all year long. If you practice a different faith, I would love to hear how Black History Month comes alive for you.