Most Powerful Entity

“The media is the most powerful entity on Earth.  They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power.   Because they control the minds of the masses.”     –Malcolm X

 I’m teaching a class this quarter at SPU with my colleague, Dr. David R. Nienhuis.  Yesterday we were discussing with our class why we think it’s important that we focus on race in our Introduction to Reconciliation Studies class.  We’re also going to explore issues relating to gender and sexuality but our primary focal point will be race.

Dr. Nienhuis put it like this: he explained to our students that we are going to spend the majority of our time there because “…in American society, racialization is an especially potent icon of human brokenness.  It’s a kind of anti-sacrament, an outward and visible sign of our collective spiritual brokenness.”

In the Church, an icon is like a physical prayer window to assist us as we look into the mystery of God.  And a sacrament, like communion, is “an outward and visible sign of a spiritual and invisible grace.”  So race is a particularly powerful way to explore some of the mysteries of the triune God.

Dr. Nienhuis then moved on to discuss the evolution of how the Black body, in particular, has come to be viewed in the United States.  He charted all the way back to early Greek thinking and traced it’s way through Plato & Aristotle, through the Renaissance and the Enlightenment Eras, and wrapped it up with some modern images from the US media.

I was transfixed by some of the images and the way the Black body has for centuries been seen as akin to an animal.  I googled around for more images and it’s appalling to see that we are still portraying and viewing Black bodies in this way.  How can we see these images and not see that we have a problem?  Take a look and tell me what YOU think.