BET conducted an interview with the rapper Killer Mike, recently. In the interview, as outspoken as Mike has been for years, he may have caused a bit of a ruckus with some commentary on Christianity. His baseline argument: Christianity does more harm than good for black people.
In an episode of Trigger Warning With Killer Mike, which is on Netflix, there was further exploration of the world of African-American communities and the cultural taboos within it.
This particular episode covered the belief in a Jesus who was European, Caucasian, or simply ‘white.’ A Middle East holy figure who was white, think about it. Killer Mike considers this an idea needing deconstruction: directly and without recourse to apologetics. The episode was entitled “Church of Sleep.”
As reported, “Using ‘Church of Sleep,’ a recent Q&A with the Atlanta MC further examines white Jesus, the African Diaspora, ancestral devotion, economic self-sufficiency, the current state of affairs for Black people, and more…”
In the interview, Killer Mike reported on how he viewed African-Americans as imprisoned with the image of a white Jesus and that they are in the “bondage of Christianity.”
“What I ended up discovering is that not only is that image oppressive because it denies the identity of myself — all of it hurts the followers,” Killer Mike explained, “Personally, white Jesus is not good for me. And for my community, it’s not good for them. So I went in with the [intention] of destroying this image, a very patriarchal and racist image.”
In the process of this rapid deconstruction of the image, Mike created a new church entitled the Church of Sleep, hence the title of the episode. He noted prayer simply, for him and his family, is talking to oneself and finding their own inner divinity.
Mike has a shrine devoted to his grandmother and mother with an entire prayer room within the household, where there are women divinity figures.
Astutely, Mike stated, “People find community and stability in religious practices and churches, so I get it. Like, I still go to church. I will go to church with my children and their mothers. ’Cause the sense of community and fellowship — I get that. I ain’t giving no money at the end. I don’t buy or need to buy loyalty to talk to God.”
He noted how he has been questioning the faith, asking critical and probing questions, for years, since about the age of 15. Mike stated that he studied religion and philosophy at Morehouse too.
“Without the African diaspora, particularly the East and Horn and formerly South Sudan — without South Sudan, you wouldn’t have religion. You wouldn’t have Abrahamic religions. All of those religions borrow from folklore, from mythology,” Killer Mike explained, “You wouldn’t have — without the Orishas of Africa, you wouldn’t have Greek gods. So without a basis of calling out the attributes of gods of different names and having different powers, the Greeks would never set up what became figures like Zeus and Hercules, so I’m cool with everything that came before those.”
He noted a binary position or set of responses to his critical inquiry. Either the African-American community likes the message or not. By Mike’s thinking on the issue, the indoctrination into Christianity and, in this particular consideration, into the mythology of a white Middle Eastern Jew named Jesus begins at age 4, approximately.
Killer Mike stated, “You’re put in a school or nursery or something, and you’re not free anymore because you have to agree to the structure of that reality. But before that, your imagination is alive. You’re already in tune with God. You’re already talking to the air. No one knows who you are talking to. You’re walking out into the grass, so that’s appreciating God to me. So to me after that, you kind of agree to the system and you spend the rest of your life trying to un-agree and sometimes you don’t.”
BET’s interviewer was an intriguing person, to say the least. They asked good questions, direct queries getting at the heart of it. They asked about the path to personal enlightenment, of which Killer Mike recommended paying closer attention to the internal voice for them. As a youngster growing up, as with most gifted young people, he simply began to question the foundational belief structures handed down to him. He continued to disbelieve it. Now, he is one among many leading a charge of, at a minimum, critical thinking about Christianity and, at least, a white Jesus in African-American communities.
Photo by Jonathan Cosens – JCP on Unsplash