My wife washed my daughter’s hair the other day. Now why am I sharing this? Well after finishing the wash she was doing it in the living room and I was sitting there reading. Now it was a like a curly afro looking hairdo (sorry I’m not an expert in women’s hairstyles) After she was finished she got the mirror and the first thing my daughter said was “…wow I look like Annie”! So she was genuinely excited. As an aside I’m talking about the new Annie reboot in 2014 not the 1982 original. So her reference was Quvenzhane` Wallis, but to her it’s Annie. So for the purpose of this writing it’s Annie 🙂
Now let me explain why I found this so profound. I analyzed this in light of where things are nationally. It’s been a couple weeks since the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, and it’s given me a time to reflect. I’m not as naive as most who want to use revisionist history on his leadership like everything he did was great. Because it was far from that. He very strongly pushed a homosexual agenda as well as being too soft of police brutality against people of color. Now neither of those outway the good things that he spearheaded during his time either (healthcare, auto bailout, wall street reform/credit card act, etc). But this writing isn’t to talk dissect the things he did or did not do. This is to present for your consideration what he represented (similar to what Annie represented to my daughter)
According to Stanford University encyclopedia of philosophy external stimuli have the ability to affect a person’s self perception. There’s a reason when we go to a business establishment we usually (not always) but usually assume that the person in charge is white, and probably male. For most people who live in western civilization that is the majority of the external imagery that we are normally presented. In movies, television, and honestly in everyday life.
In the area of critical commentary, for my day job I am a construction project manager (I know shocker I don’t write on divenomous.com full time) and I go through this consistently. Now I have an undergraduate as well as an advanced degrees and certifications and it still comes as a surprise to people that I would be overseeing million dollar projects. So I find myself constantly having to correct people (I’m polite about it now, there’s really nothing to be gained from being angry ‘all the time’) I can remember as a child growing up my mother would tell me that I’d never understand growing up in a place where everyone in positions of authority and prestige all looked like me. (my parents are from the Caribbean, I’m a 1st generation Caribbean-American). She would talk about how much that does for the self image and helped her when she had to adjust when the family moved to the US.
Now back to Mr Obama, to the diaspora (which includes african americans, caribbean, african immigrants, etc) he and his wife were and are more than just another president and first lady. We are not afforded the luxury of seeing him as just a former president from the democratic party. He is an image for inspiration and aspiration that had never been seen before. One of the most powerful men on the planet was a black man. That image alone did enough for the self worth for an entire generation of young people. To underscore this fact, I have a 8 year old son. He has only known a black president. Let that sink in.
Now why are images so important? For those of us who read the bible, you will note that even God himself pays attention to images. He understands their effect on the mind.
In the book of Colossians it states that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Now why was it so important to point out the fact that Jesus was visible and The Father is invisible? As if it wasn’t already obvious enough. Though we can believe in the invisible, the visible image will have an impact on us fully (spirit, soul, & body). Those in our lives who actually live out the reality of their faith have a tremendous impact on us. In the gospel of John the bible also reinforces this point. It states that Jesus preexisted in eternity as “Word” but that He then came down became flesh and lived among mankind. He didn’t just come and die, he lived among people as the image of something greater. The death of Jesus is the cornerstone of Christian faith. But the life of Jesus is the example of the impact of the visible and tangible in our lives.
We are foolish to believe that we are not impacted by external images. Modern methods of advertisement and propaganda have shown us this. Now in conclusion I want to state that my point here is not give lifeless images more importance but warn against minimizing the influence they do carry in minds of those who behold them.
In the next portion of this topic I’m going to unpack a bit why I feel it sounds oblivious when believers use statements like “just focus on the gospel”