A lot of Americans apparently think of God as a white man. This was something I didn’t know growing up. I thought that the one thing uniting Abrahamic religions was their insistence on God’s formlessness.
In my early 20’s I learned that a surprising number of Americans have co-opted a Michelangelo depiction as the official portrait of the Judeo-Christian God. I’m not entirely sure how or why this came about, and I don’t know if Christians in other countries share this concept. But somehow, somewhere, a white man with a beard became the apparent default American view of God.
In Hinduism, God is formless but also has infinite forms. God is a white man, a black woman, blue, golden, multifaceted, nonhuman. So a shirt that says, “I met God. She’s black,” is not a surprising statement from a Hindu perspective. The Great Mother is frequently depicted as black.
A Jewish Atheist has been selling t-shirts with this slogan and sales have picked up since the #blacklivesmatter movement got underway. I read about him on the Huffington Post a few days ago and something more than the inherent anti-Hinduism of his words has been bothering me every since:
“I like poking fun at sacred cows,” Chenfield told HuffPost. “I’m taking the idea that God is a white male and doing the opposite of that, which is a black woman.”
The more I think of his words, the more they bother me. Are white people the opposite of black people? Are men the opposite of women? If people are inherently opposite, then they are naturally opposed, opposing, opponents. Is there any common ground if a black woman is the antithesis of a white man?
If Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren is elected in 2016, would we be getting the opposite of Barack Obama as president? Was Condoleeza Rice the opposite of George W. Bush?
As long as people think a black woman is the opposite of a white man, neither racism nor sexism will be overcome.