'Why’s Jesus and the good guys always white and the devil’s looking like Obama,” a little girl watching a rec center TV asks. History Channel's 'The Bible' suffers from the same parenting issue we do here at home, that too often the messenger’s demeanor distracts from and derails the message.
First it was that the blood and gore were too graphic for young children, now The Bible, the History Channel series, is losing the scriptural education message to the perception that the actor playing Satan looks, to some, like President Obama. The real problem here isn’t that History has given birth to “Obama-Satan,” but that it suffers from the same parenting issue we do here at home, that too often the messenger’s demeanor distracts from and derails the message.
What parent hasn’t telegraphed, through a facial expression or gesture, the exact opposite of what we are trying to get across without realizing it? We make a child fear thunderstorms by racing to comfort and saying, “Don’t be afraid!” before the kid has made a whimper.
So, too, the History channel series that tries to parent viewers into biblical education is suffering to get its message heard above the faces it’s making in each episode. We saw angels in armor delivering a coup de grâce on the wicked as blood spurts onto the face of the holy. This week, African-American kids are seeing that the faces of all the bad guys look like theirs in hue, while the pious and Christ himself are the opposite.
“Why’s Jesus and the good guys always white and the devil’s looking like Obama,” a little girl, hands on hips, asked an older girl at the recreation center yesterday afternoon. The center has large TV sets in the game and workout rooms, plus a computer room where kids often scan headlines that pop us during searches. The older girl, who had her back to me, shrugged and replied, “White people make everything white.”
Both girls are in my after-school chess program, and when I cleared my throat, the younger child giggled and the older one whirled around and without missing a beat said quite frankly, “Right Ms. Suhay?”
Being about as light-skinned as it gets, I was at a total loss; and rather than step into this bear trap I just said, “I’ll have to look into that and get back to you.”
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