In case you haven’t heard Jesus is black. He’s alive and well, smoking blunts (marijuana cigars,) drinking 40s, and living in Compton. This is the image we are presented with on the Adult Swim television show Black Jesus from producers , Aaron McGruder and Mike Clattenburg. Widely known for their successful show The Boondocks, Black Jesus will air it’s third season later this year. The recent racially motivated killings and unrest have sparked a call for the return of Boondocks which frequently made serious comments that echoed the feelings of the black community. That show has been cancelled, and all we are left with, ironically, is Black Jesus.
Black Jesus is nothing if not entertaining. The cast of characters moves beyond stereotype, and could even be called iconic. The complicated relationships portrayed are both humorous and realistic. The topics addressed are serious – drug addiction, homelessness, black on black crime, and violence.
The show features border – lines like “Glory be to God ! What’s happenin’ pimps ?” On the surface it is easy to see how many view the show as sacrilegious, but if one looks at it in a larger context it is really a social commentary on the relationship between modern people of color in the inner city and religion. The show plays like a cross between Good Times and Weeds, managing to be both funny and gritty simultaneously. The “street smart savior” is played regally by Gerald ‘Slink’ Johnson, whose character grew out of a sketch he performed years ago. In an interview with Indiewire.com he says ” The same God that everyone might say I’m blaspheming is the same God that gave me the job.” As for Voodoo and Christianity, many devotees of the religion know that they are not mutually exclusive in all cases. Many go to church and then also worship in a Voodoo house. This was true even of the Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. The representation of Jesus in Black Jesus is one that presents itself in a more Afro-centric way. The divine can manifest and walk among humans for a time to offer help and guidance. This world certainly needs heroes, and Black Jesus is one.