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BLACK YOUTH -- BLACK NAMES -- BLACK JESUS

1.19.2006


This is coming in a little late, but an interesting editorial in The Chicago Defender by blogger, What Would You Say If You Weren't Afraid?, and Project 21 member Casey Lartigue on Why Black Youth Must Think Bigger.

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Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? According to the NBER, yes they are. Employers' Replies to Racial Names. This isn't really a new story, but still interesting. As a recruiter in my former life, I definitely saw a different reaction to resumes with these names, but it was a case of class prejudice, not racial prejudice. The fact is that there is a certain stigma of class associated with those types of names. Code word: Ghetto or Project Names.

Everyone knows that middle class and upper class black folks don't name their girls Shaquanna or KaDaniel. There is a perception that someone with that name is not a person of class or intelligence, presence, whatever you want to exude in a corporate setting. Of course it isn't true, but the perception is there. These same hiring managers who did not want to hire Dishwanna to handle their million dollar account didn't turn their nose up at African names. As long as the person was well educated and had great experience, they didn't give me a hard time. So the lesson: Ethnic is a yes, Ghetto is a no.

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I've mentioned Diversity Inc several times on this blog. It's a great website of all issues diversity, business and otherwise. It's a subscription site, but it's well worth the money. Here's an article from their website on a new Black Jesus movie coming out. Personally, I didn't see Jesus as white, nor as a placid savior, but everyone has their artistic view:

Black-Jesus Movie PremieresCompiled by the DiversityInc staff
© 2005 DiversityInc.com®
January 19, 2006
The South African film "Son of Man" portrays Jesus Christ as a modern African revolutionary and aims to shatter the Western image of a placid savior with fair hair and blue eyes. It is billed as the world's first black-Jesus movie.

The South African film, which premieres on Sunday at the U.S. Sundance Festival in Utah, transports the life and death of Christ (registration required) from first-century Palestine to a contemporary African state, Reuters reports.

There are some changes. Jesus, instead of being born in a manger, is born in a shanty-town. His mother, Mary-still a virgin-is feisty and has arguments with the angels.

Gun-wielding authorities fear his message of equality and he ends up hanging on a cross.

"We wanted to look at the gospels as if they were written by spindoctors and to strip that away and look at the truth," director Mark Dornford-May told Reuters in an interview.

The movie, however, shows a Jesus who is more political than religious. "The important thing about the message of Christ was that it is universal. It doesn't matter what he looked like," Dornford-May said.

There was a film called "Black Jesus" made in 1968 and starring Woody Strode, but it is described as a political commentary rather than an interpretation of the life of Christ.

Dornford-May, who says he subscribes to Christ's teachings without necessarily believing he is the son of God, says the Jesus in the film is a divine being who rose from the dead and with his resurrection signals hope for Africa, the world's poorest continent.
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