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Racialism and the Media

Black Jesus, Black Twitter, and the First Black American President


Venise T. Berry

Racialism and Media: Black Jesus, Black Twitter and the First Black American President is an exploration of how the nature of racial ideology has changed in our society. Yes, there are still ugly racists who push uglier racism, but there are also popular constructions of race routinely woven into mediated images and messages. This book examines selected exemplars of racialism moving beyond traditional racism. In the twenty-first century, we need a more nuanced understanding of racial constructions. Denouncing anything and everything problematic as racist or racism simply does not work, especially if we want to move toward a real solution to America’s race problems. Racialism involves images and messages that are produced, distributed, and consumed repetitively and intertextually based on stereotypes, biased framing, and historical myths about African American culture. These images and messages are eventually normalized through the media, ultimately shaping and influencing societal ideology and behavior. Through the lens of critical race theory these chapters examine issues of intersectionality in Crash, changing Black identity in Black-ish, the balancing of stereotypes in prime-time TV’s Black male and female roles, the power of Black images and messages in advertising, the cultural wealth offered through the Black Twitter platform, biased media framing of the first Black American president, the satirical parody of Black Jesus, contemporary Zip Coon stereotypes in film, the popularity of ghettofabulous black culture, and, finally, the evolution of black representation in science fiction.

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Chapter Six: A Satirical Parody: Black Jesus in the Hood



A Satirical Parody: Black Jesus in the Hood

According to the Pew Research Center (Masci, 2018; Diamant, 2018), approximately 79% of African Americans self-identify as Christian, African Americans are more religious than whites and LatinX, plus African Americans are more likely to read the Bible regularly and believe that it represents God’s word. Religion is a critical component of the black community and many scholars argue that the description of Jesus in the Bible where his hair is like wool and feet the color of fine brass means he was not white (Cone, 2010). Cone actually believes that not only was Jesus black based on his description in the Bible, but symbolically since Jesus bonded with the oppressed, the poor, and the downtrodden, it more likely that he was a person of color.

So, what happened when Aaron McGruder and Mike Clattenburg created an Adult Swim parody called Black Jesus? The American Family Association came out against the show immediately based on its trailer (De Moraes, 2014). According to Deadline Hollywood the group was concerned that the show was blasphemous and made a mockery of Jesus Christ. One Million Moms (2018) were upset when the show returned for a second season calling it a sacrilegious program that distorts the truth about Christianity. Several black preachers also expressed concern such as Kerry Burkey, senior pastor at the Rockledge Church of Christ in Florida who said the show confirms that our nation has no...

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