Friday, December 13, 2013

The White Racial Frame in Practice: Dear Fox News and Megyn Kelly, the "Historical" Jesus is Not "White". He is Actually a Character in the Movie "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"

I would again like to thank the donors to We Are Respectable Negroes' annual fundraiser. Some kind and generous folks threw some money into the begging bowl today. I am grateful and impressed.  If you can and are willing here is the link.

Moving forward...

Megyn Kelly's effort to defend the Whiteness of Jesus Christ and Santa Claus is an example of stupidity in action by those who do not know how stupid they really are.

[I wonder, is this a version of the Dunning-Kruger effect?]

I am not one for name-calling. However, Kelly is, to borrow from the movie Casino, "one dumb white woman". It takes practice to be so dim while so passionately arguing about the racial identities of mythical and historical-fictional characters.

Fox News and the Right-wing echo chamber preys on low information, racially resentful, white conservative voters.

[Or is it more accurate to suggest that these folks "pray to" Fox News and the Right-wing propaganda machine?]

Megyn Kelly's matter of fact assertion that Jesus and Santa Claus "must of course" both be "white" is a perfect fit for a public that believes that "there is a war on Christmas" and a black communist, socialist, fascist named Barack Obama is President of the United States. Such beliefs are the gravity holding together the intellectual constellation that is the Fox News Right-wing media universe and its public.

When you confront madness and insanity there is the risk that you too will become lost. If you have ever had a relationship with a mentally unhinged person (a boss, relative, friend, lover, or the like) with anger management issues and a persecution complex then you have an intimate understanding of how the irrational can convince the heretofore rational person that it is the latter who is crazy. Alternatively, if you work in the mental health field, some delusions are so compelling that at a certain point a clinician has to sit back and ask themselves, "do they know something I don't?"

Kelly has no such gifted insight to offer. But, she does provide an example of the oft-discussed "teachable moment".

I often use the phrase and concept "the white racial frame" in my online writings about White supremacy and white privilege as systems of power and knowledge that influence social institutions, politics, life chances, etc. in the United States and the West.

I try to provide examples of the white racial frame in practice when possible. Megyn Kelly's defense of the Whiteness of Santa Claus and Jesus is a perfect example of the white racial frame as a real social practice.

The white racial frame is a concept developed by noted sociologist Joe Feagin. He describes it as follows:
In the books Systemic Racism and The White Racial Frame I develop the concept of a white racial frame holistically and comprehensively. Since its development in the 17th century, this racial frame has been a “master frame,” a dominant framing that provides a generic meaning system for theracialized society that became the United States. The white racial frame provides the vantage point from which European American oppressors have long viewed North American society. In this racial framing, whites have combined racial stereotypes (the verbal-cognitive aspect), metaphors and interpretive concepts (the deeper cognitive aspect), images (the strong visual aspect), emotions (feelings), and narratives (historical myths like “manifest destiny of whites to spread across the country”), and routine inclinations to discriminatory action. This frame buttresses, and grows out of the material reality of racial oppression. 
The complex of racial hierarchy, material oppression, and the rationalizing white racial frame constitute what I term systemic racism. This white racial frame includes much more than the usual somewhat weak concepts most scholars and popular analysts use in the study of US racial matters, such as stereotyping, prejudice, and bigoted discrimination.
The white racial frame has long been propagated and held by most white Americans–and even, in part, accepted by many people of color. For most whites, the racial frame is deeply held, with many stored “bits,” including stereotyped knowledge, racial images and understandings, racial emotions, and racial interpretations. Not all whites use the dominant frame to the same extent, and in everyday practice there are multiple variations. By constantly using selected bits of the dominant racial frame to interpret society, by integrating new items into it, and by applying its stereotypes, images, and interpretations in many discriminatory actions, whites imbed their racialized frame deeply in their minds.
Santa Claus is a corporate creation based on a Turkish and Greek myth. There is no "real" Santa Claus. There is much debate surrounding the existence of a "historical" Jesus Christ. Among serious scholars and thinkers who meditate on these matters for a living, the consensus seems to be that there is no definitive visual depiction of Jesus. And as I wrote over at, Jesus most certainly did not look like a white surfer dude. If the "historical" Jesus lived in the United States today, and based on his origins in the Near East and Mediterranean, he would be racially profiled and harassed by the United States' national security apparatus.

White supremacy works through taken for granted assumptions about reality. White supremacy also works through mental conditioning which trains its subjects thinking about the world. Consequently, White supremacy, or alternatively if one wants to be more narrow, white racism and white privilege, manifest themselves on both a conscious and subconscious level.

Thus, on one hand Megyn Kelly and others who are similarly delusional can argue with great confidence that Jesus Christ and Santa Claus were/are "white". Then, they can offer up a deflection and qualifier that "of course it doesn't matter what color Jesus Christ is".

There is the lie; it is revealed by a moment of cognitive dissonance. For Kelly and others who are either overly identified with Whiteness, pathological white racists, or just ignorant and have internalized white privilege and the white racial frame as "natural" and "normal", Jesus Christ and Santa Claus must be "white". No other explanation is viable or possible.

I marvel at the following puzzle. Whiteness and white privilege are so powerful, yet its owners are simultaneously so anxiety prone about their hold on Power. Some of them will even argue about the "real" skin color of fictional characters.

Faith is a belief in that which cannot be proven by ordinary means or appeals to facts or empirical reality. Religion has no place in politics or public policy in a secular society for those reasons. In a free society, Megyn Kelly and other white folks (and a good number of people of color too) are allowed to yearn for a white Jesus and a white Santa Claus.

But, why must Jesus be white for them to believe in his message? Would their investment in white skin privilege and Whiteness make them less able to pray before him, to humble and submit themselves, to kneel before a man of color as their personal savior?

Given how racism and conservatism are the same thing in post-civil rights America, I doubt that many Right-wing Christians would be able to do such a thing. Is their faith so weak?


Shady Grady said...

I think it is actually destructive for people to worship someone who doesn't look like them. This is exactly why the Megyn Kelly's of the world not only believe that Jesus(God) is white, they insist that you do as well.

Bryan Ortez said...

I thought it was pretty trite and petty for Fox to bring up four people to make fun of this article from Slate. They could have ignored it entirely if they were going to be so dismissive.

I imagine most Christians would rather not think of it. After all, every image of him for much of the collective memory in the West has been a fair skinned man. White as default is necessary, to suggest otherwise is just awkward for white people. wouldn't want white people uncomfortable would we?

wawoo said...

As it happens my falling out with organized religion started in VBS when I was 11. Aside, ours was a mixed marraige, Methodist Father, Baptist Mother so I attended Methodist VBS at home in Pensacola, and Baptist VBS while staying with my Mother's parents in Quincy, Florida every summer. Double the pleasure , double the fun This was the Baptist VBS. Back to the point, I noticed in spite of the posters on the wall and the heartfelt renditions of "Jesus loves all the little children of the world, red and yellow black and white, they are precious in his sight...." that clearly those other than white were not so precious in the sight of many of my fellows and especially their parents and grandparents.
The Methodist minister in Pensacola subsequently went to Montgomery and associated himself with Dr. King much to the consternation of the majority of his Montgomery and former Pensacola congregations.
The Christmas Penguin strikes me as a damn fine idea and of course, neither the real Jesus nor the original from present day Turkey St. Nicholas were white hued. They were most definitely brown skinned folk.

chauncey devega said...

Here is my question and thought too. Again, the power of white supremacy as a global force that socialized whole societies. Most of the society is of color, so if Jesus is "the son of God" why wouldn't God be efficient and have a beige emissary? Yet, God chooses a representative who looks like a minority of the world's people. Mighty odd. No?

chauncey devega said...

And white privilege is all about making White folks comfortable. No?

chauncey devega said...

And doesn't that say so much about the black church in America? Tragic.

Learning Is Eternal said...

All whites I've encountered on this matter of jesus's race have told me it doesn't matter what his race is/was? They know damn well if he was anything other than white most (not all, I'll tread lightly) would be atheist or another religion. This holds true. The pressure test being the election of a half black/African president.

They (whoever) can have Sinterklaas, (the dutch demon) and christmas. It never resonated with me. I never lived where there was a chimney and no way was he gonna jump out our space heater to deliver gifts.

I'm not a fan of any & all religions though they have good parts, tenets in some that if people truly (try to)lived by would make this world not such a ghetto with unity serving as the spine helping US ALL walk upright.

I will say the guidance that people seek in temples, mosques & mega (money) churches/centers I learned at home first, the streets second.

This faux news commentator just confirmed aloud what I knew all along but never heard them say. This is how they (the racist, imperialist) think. Jesus is white. You negroes/people of color will accept our god and love it (which black people do). And w/her 'honesty' on live TV black church's will still have white jesus stained glass/paintings there come Sunday.

Religion is slavery by another name & a key component in political power plays resulting in world atrocities past and present.
The argument w/race (@least for me) is everything magnificent on this planet has a white face.
Charleton Heston is Jesus, Elizabeth Taylor is Cleopatra. Egyptians, Hannibal of Carthage getting brighter w/every documentary on discovery. Obama is the Antichrist. miley cyrus (attempts @) twerking 25yrs. late.
Y'all can have jesus. Chauncey DeVega, Malcolm X (and those alike), Michael Jordan & Tupac ours.

I'm a cynic but I'm also a realist. Common sense and logical thinking is what's up, don't let nobody tell you different. I'd much rather play the game of life being dealt facts than BS. Science not so bad either, you know, proving/eliminating hypotheses and stuff.
Excellent post. Great comments.

kokanee said...

Fox News panders to the authoritarian, tribal, racist white conservative so we can easily dismiss Megan Fox and whatever nonsense she spews.

This issue reminds me of the days when there were no black dolls for kids to play with —only white dolls. Before one can love other skin tones one has to love the skin one's in and for that black Santas make perfect sense. I've seen lots of black Santas before. This is nothing new.

T said...

Media Matters is owned by billionaire George Soros, who is one of the globalist bosses trying to completely ruin and manipulate this country, and others. Different from Fox, I know, but let's be careful with Media Matters. George Soros can go home to Greece, where he belongs.

T said...

I am a Jewish woman. According to the Christians' own book, Jesus was a Jew.
Well guess what, we Jews weren't white then, and we aren't white now. Completely different lineages.
But Santa Claus IS white. As the other commenter said, Santa Claus comes from Europe: Sinter Klaas. That tradition goes back centuries and it properly belongs to white Christians. You cannot force them to change it.
But you can always make a black Santa for your OWN children.
I see black people reaching for an authentic black Christmas. Could Kwanzaa possibly help in this?

Learning Is Eternal said...

Don't want "an authentic black Christmas" or a black santa for my kids. It/he isn't real.
Could care less if they change "it." I'd rather my people not participate in it all together.
Any moment one is privileged to be w/those you love and who love you back is SPECIAL. Much more so than pagan holiday constructs designed by, for a few, followed by many.

Bryan Ortez said...

well, what happens when white people make themselves feel uncomfortable with people of color?

Bryan Ortez said...

she says critics are humorless and she and fox are the victims

Gable1111 said...

That's called oppression.

Gable1111 said...

The other day I saw a picture of an older white woman holding a sign that said "I'm teabagging for Jesus!" And that sign says it all. Jesus has to be white, as does Santa Claus, because what they really worship is whiteness. Religion and politics have become expressions of their whiteness, and exist solely for that purpose, their claims to the contrary.

If they adhered to Christianity to the extent they do whiteness, there would be no poor, there'd be no hunger and the world would be at peace.

Buddy H said...

Glen Beck's whiteboard told you so.

Bryan Ortez said...

yes, thank you. My email gave your first answer as "that's called oppression" and that is what I was hinting at.

Miles_Ellison said...

White supremacy and greed are America's true religions. That's why people believe that Jesus is a Ted Nugent lookalike who preached that billionaires have a god-given right to their riches and that poor people only have the right to suffer and die. "Christians" wouldn't recognize Jesus if he fell out of the sky and landed on top of them.

kokanee said...

Good find Bryan. It was too funny not to share:
Megyn Kelly was just trying to bring some Christmas cheer onto her Fox News show when she declared that both Santa Claus and Jesus were white, she said in a rambling response to the firestorm her comments created.

“In kicking off the lighthearted segment, I offered a tongue-in-cheek message for any kids watching, saying that Santa, who I joked is a real person ... is white,” she told her viewers Friday night. “That’s part of why we covered the story in the first place — humor is a part of what we try to bring to this show, but sometimes that’s lost on the humorless.”

Kelly’s comments — which came Wednesday night in response to a Slate piece by Aisha Harris that Santa shouldn’t only be portrayed as white — instantly went viral and provided fodder for late-night comedians.

“By the way, I also said Jesus is white,” Kelly continued, trying to dig herself out of the holiday hornet’s nest. “As I’ve learned in the past two days, that is far from settled.”

It also dawned on her that race is “still an incredibly volatile issue in this country,” and she made herself — and the “powerful” channel that employs her — the victim.

“Fox News and yours truly are big targets for many people,” she said.

kokanee said...

re: "and we aren't white now"


If you are Ashkenazi of European descent in the United States then you definitely benefit from white privilege whether you know it or not and whether you identify as white or not.

When I startpaged, "Are Jews White?" this came up:

kokanee said...

re: "why are people so concerned about whiteness?"

Isn't whiteness (and the privilege that comes with it) a major theme of WARN?

Bryan Ortez said...

absolutely, which is why I love this blog among other reasons.

Here is one of the yahoo answers that just makes me shake my head in dismay:
"I am definantly "White", Red hair Freckles, Scot/ Irish/ German, & I would extend the honor of being "White" to any ethnicity that can produce hair color, that is other than "Black" & eye color, other than dark "Brown, or Black," I would say, that of the racial types that you mention, there has been much misegenation, amoung these groups, so that, while, you might find some "White" characteristics, in individual persons among them .you cannot be sure, of the racial mix in any particular representative, of those populations,"

".And while I am at it, I would like to call to the attention, of my "White " kinsmen, that our numbers are diminishing, & that unless we keep our bloodlines pure, & begin to procreate, at a greater rate, then we, the "Great White Race" will become extinct"

".So I would hope to live to see a revival of a racial, identity conciousness among ourselves, so that our great, & noble "White Race", will not disapear from the Earth,."

kokanee said...

Got your point: white folk are the ones who are desperate to preserve their "whiteness." America the land of the dual melting pots: one white and one truly multicultural. Sad ignorant comment - I pity him or her.

Miles_Ellison said...

I didn't know that anyone at Fox News was capable of learning anything.

kokanee said...

Oh, I bet they are a lot smarter than they let on. After all, they are well paid to spew the capitalist, jingoistic, racist gospel. That is everyone except for Bill O'Reilly. He really is one dumb mutha-______.

Gable1111 said...

And the tea bagging right, who serve, in many cases unwittingly, as the brownshirts of the corporate drive to reduce middle class life to indentured servitude, are the creations and wholly owned tools of the Koch brothers, whose manipulations and control of the levers of power make Soros look like child's play. Its the Koch's and those like them, not "government" (read: black folk) who have more to do with why you're falling behind in all that matters. "Media Matters" is just telling the story.

Buddy H said...

Here's something I noticed about my local tv station's website: They have news items about local crimes (with mug shots), and viewers chime in with their comments. The following has become so predictable it's ridiculous: whenever it's a crime (no matter how petty) involving a person of color, there are a dozen or so critical comments. If the crime involves a white person, there are no comments. For example, a teenage black girl was caught shoplifting. Twelve comments against her, one of them was "she has a nasty face." A few days earlier, a white guy actually used pliers to pull permanent teeth out of a foster child in his care! He was charged with abuse, locked up. Not a single viewer comment. A white high school student was arrested for injecting heroin into a classmate. I read the comments, and they were all suggesting we shouldn't "judge until we hear all the facts" (!) Again, this has become so predictable it would actually be laughable if it weren't so sad.

SabrinaBee said...

She wasn't joking. She was dead serious and indignant on top of it. Amazing how they can spin just about anything and still have takers.

kokanee said...

Funny as in ridiculous and outrageous.

E.C. 2 said...

The last refuge of the racist white supremacist conservative hag, and the dis-likes of the anti-black colored coon-servatives defending her conservative racist, white supremacist words and actions.

chauncey devega said...

Do you have a link to that?

chauncey devega said...

"All whites I've encountered"

Be careful of race essentialism. All white you have encountered does not equal all white folks--I know a few who do not fall into that camp. Funny thing, quite a few actually.

Buddy H said...

Buddy H said...

I posted a link, but it disappeared. If you go to wnyt (followed by a dot com) you'll see various criminals with the outraged comments reacting to those of color.

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T said...

You are right, we enjoy white privilege. But we are not white in culture.

Yes, I am Ashkenazi, and we are certainly whiter than our Sephardi/Mizrahi brothers and sisters. But our DNA is Jewish, and that is PROVABLE. We are NOT Celtic, or Anglo-Saxon.
My pointing out Santa's history does NOT mean that black people are not entitled to a Christmas of their cultural own.
After all, even though S. Claus is history, the Santa of today is also fictional, freeing you to make your own holiday.
If a white Santa is a problem (and I can see how it would be), then lovingly make a new tradition with integrity for your children and grandchildren, if you have not already.
If Jesus existed as the Christians said he did, then he was a very dark-skinned person: Jews were very dark-skinned thousands of years ago.
Ashkenazi Jews 'lightened up' with some interracial 'fooling around' when they got to Europe and the lighter skinned peoples. But we still carry our DNA.
Thus your author is correct: Jesus, if existed was dark, not white, as the Fox crew above tried to say.

kokanee said...

I agree with you that Jesus was not even close to white. St. Nicholas, being Greek, was probably a nice olive hue.
Incidentally, "white privilege" has made its way to Israel as well with Sephardi and Mizrahi being almost second class citizens to Ashkenazi.
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." --Martin Luther King, Jr.

T said...

I did not know that. I know that on the Ashkenazi side, the people called Haredi (ultra orthodox) are having tons of babies. They could be outstripping the Sephardi in numbers. That's my guess.
In Hebrew, the word Sephardi means "Spain".

kokanee said...

Hey T —Thanks for the tidbits.

I'm all out of interesting things to say but it's been a pleasure talking to you. Catch you later —right here. ;)

kokanee said...

FYI: George Soros is Hungarian and Jewish (born to nonobservant parents).

T said...

I know; and as an American Jew, I have no problem sending Jewish bad guys home.
Every race has bad ones, and we certainly have ours! ;)