Aaron McGruder is not shy about tackling racial issues within his work. As the creator and head writer of the Boondocks series, he has shown a consistent knack for creating controversy through his content — from his feud with the BET Network after labeling them an evil empire to his claim that Ronald Reagan was responsible for funding the terrorist plot behind 9/11. However, his criticism to date will surely pail in comparison to the backlash he will receive for his new project, Black Jesus — set to air Thursday, August 7th on Adult Swim.
The show follows the life of Black Jesus — a Hennessy drinking, weed smoking, foul mouthed Messiah — as he attempts to spread the gospel across the dangerous streets of Compton. Needless to say, McGruder’s take on Black Jesus strays more than a little bit from the traditional Bible narrative.
Both black and white conservative Christians have already expressed outrage over the concept, demanding the show be prevented from airing. However, a real discussion over McGruder’s work and message has yet to be discussed in an open forum. Does it matter that the show openly presents itself as a satirical work and not a documentary of Jesus Christ? Is there a line that should be drawn with certain content that satire should never cross?
Possibly the greatest question of all is: what is McGruder drawing from in black history, culture, religion and society that needs to be discussed to fully understand the complex layers he presents in Black Jesus? And, how could this show be used as a mirror to reflect the cultural issues present throughout the history of religion, or at the very least, how could it be a catalyst to fuel dialogue around these topics?
Answers to these questions go far beyond the words in this post. However, we look forward to the airing of Black Jesus and the conversations that it will inevitably create. Hopefully, we can create a dialogue to discuss the content of the work and not reject it on face-value as blasphemy.
What would Black Jesus do?