Blog #11: Jesus Was Not Blond, nor Blue-Eyed

I will use brown thread instead of blue when I stitch this baby’s eyes as I want to show Jesus as he probably looked while he was on earth in Israel.

The adrenaline rush of the first few days of my Big Hairy Audacious Month is wearing off. Now it’s time to just do the few things I’ve promised myself I would do, and switch my focus from achieving wonderful results to following the process, one step, one stitch, one glass of water, one blog and prayer at time. Any progress, any results, will be a bonus. It’s consistently doing the next right thing, and keeping the next commitment that will be the focus for the next 20 days.

As I work on the cross stitch projects I want finished by December 5, I’m also starting a few stitches for Christmas. There are some beautiful charts that feature cardinals and holly, and others that are winter-themed with snowflakes and pine trees. I enjoy stitching snow people and snowy scenes, but most of my favorite Christmas stitches are manger scenes. These nativities feature Mary, Joseph, the Baby; some include the magi, or shepherds, or angels or all of the above. And sadly all of them call for shades of pink, light peach , ivory or white threads to stitch the skin.

Jesus came to earth at a specific time in a specific place. He became one of us by becoming a human Middle Eastern male in order to effectively share the Good News in the Middle East at that time. He most likely had dark hair, a beard, and skin that was probably olive-toned.

So, to reflect that reality, when I stitch the manger scenes and nativities, I’ll use light brown, or other shades that are more appropriate for the skin and mostly brown tones of floss when I stitch the eyes.

Why? Because we’re discovering that many parts of our society make it disadvantageous to be a person of color. An article by Erin Blakemore, “How the GI Bill’s Promise Was Denied to A Million Black WW 11 Veterans” on History.com ( posted on September 30, 2019) describes the redlining, prejudice and inequities in how the the private sector administered the GI Bill.

I can’t go back in time to undo that racist exclusion. I can change my cross stitch projects so that they are more culturally accurate. Baby Jesus was an amazing gift to the world, and so I want to do him the justice of portraying him and his earthly family as accurately as possible. Jesus was brown, and that’s a good thing.

One FlossTuber, CoffeeStitcher, has shared his intention that going forward, unless it’s a specific individual or historical character, he will convert his people to people of color because he’s tired of seeing mostly lily-white depictions of people in patterns. Another FlossTuber, Not Cross Jen, has changed the skin tone of one of her glorious “elegant ladies” from peaches-and-cream to caramel because beauty comes in more than one color.

Pictures can be worth a thousand words, and the pictures we create through fabric art such as cross stitch show what we think is worth seeing. I think a multicultural world is beautiful thing; so, one stitch at time, I will try to share that beauty, starting with sweet Baby Jesus.

Grace, peace, and progress not perfection to you!

Caroline

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