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 Jesus would probably also notice that the vicious flogging of runaway slaves in antebellum America,

or the countless gruesome lynchings of the South (where mobs of white onlookers gathered

 in droves, not unlike at Jesus' own well-attended lynching)

 

 

I Couldn't Find Jesus at the Box Office
A Review of The Passion of Christ

By John Sankofa

 

All blood and gore. Thin plot. Sadly, it seems that most commentators, caught in the powerful emotions around Jesus' violent death, make little mention of the fact that Mel Gibson took a rather shallow look at the remarkable life of a man who committed himself to fighting against so many forms of human oppression: poverty, hunger, sickness, prostitution, as well as political, religious, and cultural domination.

Of course, Gibson knew that the theological tradition of today's Christian society is not exactly the love-thy-neighbor focus of, let's say, Rev. Martin Luther King, but rather an individualistic (i.e., American) focus characterized by personal salvation and personal satisfaction--or, what some Christians like to call, a "personal walk" with Christ, as opposed to a liberating walk with the downtrodden masses. You know, the way Jesus did.

So we barely hear any mention from commentators about Gibson's mammoth oversight: the life of Jesus.  Aptly, one commentator did notice that the brutal violence Jesus endured, which Gibson recreated in his blockbuster film with an almost perverse and sadistic attention to bloody detail, was hardly unlike (and possibly even less severe) than that of other punished (i.e., tortured) humans during the Roman era.  Although most commentators seem to miss this disturbing historical reality, I suspect that Jesus, given his passion for alleviating human suffering, certainly must have caught this.  

Jesus would probably also notice that the vicious flogging of runaway slaves in antebellum America, or the countless gruesome lynchings of the South (where mobs of white onlookers gathered in droves, not unlike at Jesus' own well-attended lynching) or the horrid truck-dragging of James Byrd down a Texas road until his head rolled off, or the blood-soaked body of Amadou Diallo convulsing in an unholy hail of 41 NYPD bullets are all classical examples of later versions of old-fashioned Roman-style torture and crucifixion. And by the way, speaking of race, why was Jesus—a man with bronze skin and hair like wool who grew up in the Middle East, not Europe, and who was brown enough to be hidden as a baby in Egypt (North Africa)—portrayed as a white guy?

Gibson is apparently a creative historian with a penchant for fiction, omission, and the colors blood-red and money-green, but not black.  This all brings me to my final point:

It is not the film's gratuitous violence (which is as American as apple pie and Gibson surely revels in this) but rather the film's historical amnesia and the deafening silence around our society's failure to replicate—or apparently even portray—the profoundly liberating life of a brown-hued Jesus that makes this film so noteworthy. Of course, films about liberating the poor, the hungry, and the oppressed masses don't exactly make smash-hits at the box office. Blood and gore does.

And Gibson apparently knows this macabre American passion all too well.   

If you like this review consider making a donation

John Sankofa is a Washington, DC–based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared in over 45 African-American newspapers nationally, including the New York Amsterdam News, Final Call News, Los Angeles Weekly, Houston Times, Atlanta Voice, and the Washington Informer. 

 

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

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#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

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#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power--and the enormous risks--of the dollar's worldwide reign.  The Economy

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 27 March 2012

 

 

 

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