Finding Ethnicity in the Christmas Story

I need a little help from you, my dear readers. Although many of you remain silent, leaving few comments, I know you are out there because well...let's be honest I can see everyone who visits my blog. So I know there are many of you. Normally, I consider myself rather good at google searching, but with this particular subject I am coming up short so I call upon your expertise.

Recently, a customer came into the store looking for a book on the First Christmas, with one caveat, she wanted Jesus and by extension, his family, to look like they were actually Middle Eastern. "Of course, right this way," I said to the nice white lady with her adopted Ethiopian child in tow. (she informed me that this one of the reasons for looking for such a book on the way to the children's department) But what to my wondering eyes should appear....but a mass of First Christmas books with a very white, or at best, slightly tan baby Jesus. To be fair, this isn't the middle ages so luckily I did not see any blond Jesus' and Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds seem to be wearing historically accurate clothing for the most part. But I don't think I could categorize a single one of them as middle eastern looking in any way shape or form. So I apologized to the customer and still bothered by this, came home and began to look for this picture book for surely it exists. So far I have found one book that I think fits this description, at least from the cover art. This saddens me greatly. In the 21st century why is it that Jesus is still, for the most part, white? Is there a sub-genre of books that I am just not finding? Help me dear readers for I know you are out there. Are there First Christmas/Nativity stories in which the illustrations reflect historical accuracy as well as ethnicity?


Jenn Hill said...

On of my favorite books is "Two From Galilee". It's the Christmas story from Mary and Joseph's perspective, family reactions, etc. Not sure where it fits ethnically, but I dig the retelling.

carolyntbj said...

Huh. I haven't thought about this recently. I have a few copyrighted illustrations done in a Middle Eastern artistic style - which isn't exactly what you're talking about. When I saw the headline I thought of "A Certain Small Shepherd" cause the Mary and Joseph are African-American. As I recall "Jotham's Journey" gets culture right, but I don't remember the pictures. And my favorite re-telling in novel form is "Mary's Journal" - no pictures. I agree, this is an area that needs to be addressed.