SENTINEL 6-2-2011
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 MJ & Shades of Gray

Seeing life in "Black or White"

(Part 2 of 2)

The Firpo Files

June 2, 2011

Part 1 of this two-part series titled "MJ's Views on the ‘Ace' of Race" (May 19, 2011) discussed the July 1, 2011, issue of The Watchtower, as well as the July 2011 issue of Awake!

Both of these magazines are published by Jehovah's Witnesses, and were distributed by Michael Joseph Jackson when he belonged to the group.

The purpose of Part 1 was to illustrate why Michael sometimes took issue with the Eurocentric flavor occasionally (but consistently) found in the incomparably popular international magazines.

Fading Ink: For example, Almighty God Jehovah (when his face is illustrated), Jesus Christ (while on earth and after his resurrection to heaven), and all the holy angels (whether in heaven or materialized on earth) have white skin--complete with European features--the vast majority of times in Witness literature.

"You know the Watchtower people make their own ink," notes "Jawan" from Brooklyn. "And you'll see Jesus and the apostles with a little color in them every once in a while. But then that ink begins to fade--you know what I mean-and then everybody's White all over again."

Jesus Christ as James Bond?: Interestingly, during a worldwide campaign inviting millions to attend the commemoration of Jesus' death this past April, the Witnesses issued countless colorful invitations with an artist's conception of Jesus. Worldwide, various individuals tweeted their reaction to Witness encounters.

One of the more revealing tweets reads: "I got a flyer from the Jehovah's Witnesses and their drawing of Jesus looks remarkably like Sean Connery." Jawan's response? "They sure aren't going to make him look like Sidney Poitier."

The Colored Christ: Factually, Jesus Christ had color, and did not look like a European White man. For, not only did the people have color in the region of the world where Jesus grew up (compare Song of Solomon 1:5, 6), Jesus is said to have camouflaged himself among these same People of Color on several occasions. (Luke 4:28-30; John 7:10-13; 11:56-57)

"If his skin wasn't enriched with melanin," insists Jawan, "the police back then could have easily said: ‘We're looking for a White guy.'"

Speaking Up: Should harboring cultural bias exclude the Witnesses from being contenders for the title of "true" Christians? Intriguingly, it didn't disqualify Christ's followers when a case of discrimination reared its ugly head in the first century.

"But with the believers multiplying rapidly," writes historian and physician Luke, "there were rumblings of discontent. Those who spoke only Greek complained that their widows were being discriminated against." (Acts 6:1, Living Bible) Another translation says, "the Greek-speaking followers had an argument with the other Jewish followers."(Acts 6:1, New Century Version) Indeed, "there were rumblings of discontent" which gave birth to ‘complaints' from the ones "discriminated against."

Not content with the status quo, certain ones from the discriminated group spoke up, arguing their case. When the issue reached the apostles, they wisely appointed a task force of responsible Christian men to squash any discriminatory behavior. (Acts 6:3-6)

Should similar situations arise again within the future Christian community, responsible elders could use this incident (and how it was handled) as an instructional template for resolution.--Romans 15:4.

Position of Prejudice: As quoted in Part 1, the July 1, 2011, issue of The Watchtower states: "If we are honest with ourselves, we may realize that we are inclined to feel at least a little superior, or perhaps inferior, to people of another race." It should be noted, however, that if a racist White man is the janitor, that's one thing; if he's the general manager, that's quite another.

While this is not to suggest that all White men in responsible positions are racists, the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies are White men.

Africa in the "Black"-ground: In the August 1, 2011, Watchtower, Africa is credited with an ingenious invention, but obscurely so. Besides using the sundial, ancient Jews used the clepsydra or "water clock" to tell time on cloudy days and at night.

"Besides the Jews," says The Watchtower, "the ancient Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans also used this device. According to The Jewish Encyclopedia, both the Mishnah and the Talmud mention the clepsydra."

Tucked away in these revelatory statements is the fact that Africans ("the ancient Egyptians") came up with the clepsydra, and other cultures adopted it.

Conclusion: Despite shades of gray, MJ loved everybody, every day. Peace and blessings to all. Amen.