“Thou shalt not be black”: Christianity & the distribution of power

Within the Caribbean, and more specifically the Jamaican context, the failure to acknowledge religion as a significant factor in the distribution of power, opportunities and status still exists. And although such failure is evident among all sections of the Jamaican society, the group that has lost and continues to lose the most is the lower class African group.

In order to understand the role religion—more specifically Christianity—has played in the subjugation of blacks in Jamaica from slavery till present, one has to understand the historical, political, socio-cultural and economic factors.

Rasta Jamaica

Rastafari, even as a movement steeped in Ethiopianism and Black Liberation, cannot eradicate the traces of black subjugation that has been woven into the fabric of Jamaican culture.  If one asks you to close your eyes and think about Christ more often than not it is the ‘stereotypical’ image of a white man. An individual who perceives Christ in this way subconsciously separates himself from that Supreme Being by virtue of not having the “image and likeness” of Christ.

In the end, one believes that a structural social movement approach similar to how Christianity was established in the Caribbean or a purely African doctrine devoid of all ideological similarities to Christianity, can be the only means of ‘salvation’ for blacks in Jamaica.

Want to learn more about this paper, contact the author via email: steffon.campbell02@uwimona.edu.jm

Contributed by: Steffon R. K. Campbell

SteffonAssistant Lecturer/Coordinator, Western Jamaica Programme 
Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC)
Faculty of Humanities and Education
The University of the West Indies, Mona
Western Jamaica Campus
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