Negative Black and Female Images in the Christian Tradition
Written January 1 1995 by Emmanuel K. Twesigy, Ohio Wesleyan University, in response to Molefe Ife
Western Christianity as found and practiced in Europe, America and even some parts of neocolonial Africa is anti-Black and anti-African. This is both consciously the teaching and societal practice of some White supremacist groups. Here, some examples are the explicit teachings of the Dutch Reformed Church in the former White racist dehumanization of Africans through apartheid of South Africa and the Ku Klux Klansmen in North America.
However, although every White person is not an evil racist and White-supremacist in culture, religion, philosophy, technology and moral values, the Western Christian Church, both in its colonial and post-colonial theology, liturgical language, religious language and imageries, is predominantly patriarchal, sexist, racist and anti-Blackness.
As such, the Western institutional Church, unlike the right wing overt and explicitly hostile White supremacist groups, such as those in South Africa, and North America (right wing Afrikaners, Neo-Nazi, Ku Klux Klansmen and Skinheads), is unconsciously White supremacist, racist, discriminatory and oppressive of non-Whites and women.
Therefore, in the case of the Western or White institutional Church, it is to varying degrees both intrinsically White supremacist and racist. For instance, in 1967 when the Catholic Church consecrated the first American Black Bishop in Louisiana, many Catholic lay people protest against the Vatican and carried racist and anti-Black placards. One of these placards read:
GOD DOES NOT HONOR
Obviously, in the minds of these misguided White-supremacist and racist Catholic priests and lay people, like in the minds and teachings of the Klansmen, God is: "White," "male," "Patriarch," "Father" and a "capitalist!"
This is not an isolated incident. It is just a modern example which was covered by the mass media as a public event! African priests and bishops have not had much influence in the Vatican, except for a few cardinals, like Arinze of Nigeria.
Last year, Africa got Emmanuel Wamala of Uganda named out of the other thirty cardinals who were named, and yet Africa has more Catholics than Europe which got eight cardinals named. Obviously, the naming of the cardinals had little to do with numbers represented or theological education and sophistication. Rather, it had to do with color and socio-economic power and race dynamics! As a result, it would take a miracle and moral conversion on the part of the Catholic Church for a Black cardinal in Africa or elsewhere, to become elected pope!
Consequently, in this kind of patriarchal and anthropomorphic Church institutional thinking and practice, Blackness and femininity become demonized and equated with evil and the devil. This is nothing new. In the Hebrew bible, a woman by the name of Eve is supposed to be the mother of "evil" and moral corruption in the world.
All patriarchal societies inevitably blame evil on women! Examples are Pandora and her box among the ancient patriarchal Greeks, and the Kintu and Nnambi among the patriarchal people of Uganda. Obviously, women are not intrinsically evil or inferior creatures of god as compared to men! this negative image and perception is a creation of the dominant male society.
Analogously, in a predominantly Western White society, if women are not the scapegoats for evil, Blacks or other minorities become the evil scapegoats for the origination of evil and cause for socio-economic or moral decay in the prevailing White society. Jews were such scapegoats in Hitler's White-supremacist, patriarchal and racist Nazi Germany. If blacks had been in Germany, as they exist in USA, they would have been the ones arrested, and exterminated in the name of a White God, Aryan race and White supremacy.
The American noble declaration that "all men are created equal and are endowed with inalienable rights" did not take into account women and Blacks or slaves! As such, for these American White Christians, being human and being created in the image of God (imago dei) was only applicable to the White-male!
Accordingly, in most Churches, women could not become ordained as ministers (priests) since a priest is a societal representation of God, especially during worship and in spiritual matters of the community. Aquinas had even most erroneously taught that women could not become candidates for the Holy Orders (priesthood/ordination) because they were deformed males (castrated males) and the Scriptures excluded castrated males from priesthood.
Therefore, in cases of racism and sexism, there will be many academics who will come up to provide bogus theories in the name of philosophy, religion, and even science to justify the supposed inherent inferiority of either women or Blacks. And thus to justify their oppression and exclusion from White male dominated society and its privileges.
White racism, like sexism is about power and control of resources and privileges. Gender, race, color and education are just the western devised ways to classify people into groups, so as to mange them and exploit or govern them. Power remains in the hands of the White males as the clever creators of these classes and myths which have functioned religiously to enhance the inferiority and powerlessness of the non-White males, and most specifically, blacks and women.
When Blacks in Africa and America are not the targeted groups of White male domination and exploitation through slavery, colonialism and imperialism, White women become the targets and victims of this White male capitalistic and demonic drive for power, control, exploitation, economic or material gain and world dominion.
To this end, and ques for White male world conquest and rule, myths and propaganda are created and wars are fought to impose their patriarchal power, control, dominion and exploitation over the world and the rest of God's creation. In this respect, God is both metaphorically, economically and militarily a "White male!" However, this is the oppressive kind of Patriarchal God that Mary Daly most viciously denounced as an evil rapist of women, society and the world, and thus, sought to castrate in her book, Beyond God the Father. This is also the kind of false god and destructive societal idol that Malcolm X denounced as "the blue eyed, blonde devil."
The White supremacist and racist negative images of Blackness and femininity as evil or devil-like and White as good and god-like are to be understood in the above context of White-male paranoid myths and pathological quest for power, control, supremacy and world dominion. According to Malcolm X and Mary Daly, white supremacy is more devil-like in practice and consequences in society and the world, than positive of Agapic and God-like.
In a Western dualistic world-view for the White males, to project themselves into the world as good and intelligent productive people, they have to project their opposite, namely, the Black males and women as evil, and unintelligent unproductive socio-economic parasites to be controlled or exterminated! The proof is found in Hitler's writing, especially, the Mein Kampf regarding Jews, the works of Arthur Jensen regarding the Blacks, and now Charles Murray and the infamous Bell Curve.
In reality, God as the cosmic creative and redemptive energy or Spirit has neither gender nor color. Everything that life embodies and expresses God as the ultimate Life! As such, God is the ingredient of everything that IS, since God is the encompassing and constitutive ULTIMATE REALITY or Being in itself. God as creativity and as the ultimate COSMIC REALITY AS MIND AND CONSCIOUSNESS.
This is the doctrine that God is omnipresent in the universe and yet becoming a being among other beings, since, a being among other beings would have to occupy space and be limited by the dimensions of time and space, just like any other created material objects. In other words, since God transcends the dimensions and categories of time, space, gender, language and categories of finite thought, to insist on human mental and linguistic or societal images and myths of God's nature, essence and attributes is to commit the sin of idolatry, by the mental creation of these images of God and falsely claiming that they are true!
In this respect all negative religious images of God, and God's people in terms of gender, race, color and IQ are to be denounced as evil and destructive. They are by design and Western male creation both essentially and intrinsically prejudiced, idolatrous, racist, sexist, patriarchal, oppressive and false.
(For a complete treatment of this subject see:
Twesigye, Emmanuel, THE GLOBAL HUMAN PROBLEM, New York: Peter Lang, 1988
Twesigye, Emmanuel, GOD, RACE, MYTH AND POWER, New York: 1991
Twesigye, Emmanuel, COMMON GROUND, New York: Peter Lang, 1987).