There is an overall fear of anything black being powerful. Malcolm X was practically killed due to his discipline and influence. Many say the same thing about 2Pac. Barack Obama had 8 years of hellacious, racially tinged issues to deal with as president.
The Shack is a book written by William P. Young. Hitting shelves in 2007, it became a bestselling novel. Mackenzie “Mack” Phillips, the main protagonist, is called back to the abandoned shack where his daughter was abducted and presumably killed years earlier. He was called back by God, whom is referred to as “Papa”. However, “Papa” was revealed to him as a heavy set black woman.
And that is where the fun starts!
Regardless of the depiction of God Almighty, the book did sell millions of copies. Now, it is close to being released as a movie. With that said, the directors stuck close to the casting of “Papa” as a heavy set black woman. In fact, they picked none other than Octavia Spencer for the role. I thought this would be the perfect fit for “Papa”.
Alas, I was biblically wrong in my expectations and assumptions. In fact, there are those that would rather see this movie fail:
Joe Schimmel, pastor at Blessed Hope Chapel in Simi Valley, California, not only slammed the Academy Award-winning actress’ portrayal, he ridiculed her looks for good measure. Meanwhile, James B. DeYoung, author of “Burning Down the Shack: How the ‘Christian’ Bestseller is Deceiving Millions,” sees the character as a literal threat to Christianity. 
Oh, and it gets even better in the Atlanta Blackstar article that I found this information:
“Young’s pretentious caricature of God as a heavy-set, cushy, nonjudgmental, African-American woman called Papa,’ who resembles the New Agey Oprah Winfrey far more than the one true God revealed through the Lord Jesus Christ … lends itself to a dangerous and false image of God and idolatry,” Schimmel said.
Schimmel, who described Spencer’s character as a “fat black woman,” also criticized the depiction of God in human form. He said it is unfortunate that Christians have created such imagery as they await the Lord’s return to Earth. 
I’m not sure if I should laugh or shake my head at the confusion. I do know that this type of stuff is going too far.
Octavia Spencer Is Probably Laughing
It is time for me to make the issues with whatever Schimmel and his ilk are trying to get at simple.
- This is a fictional piece of work almost a decade old.
- This is a fictional piece of work.
- The issue is obviously about God being a black woman.
Why on Earth would anyone waste their time on a fictional work dealing with a deity is beyond me. This was not any case of “blackwashing Christ” or any of that foolishness. Nor is this about being racially insensitive on the author’s part. A WHITE MAN wrote a FICTIONAL book on how a man saw Christ in his vision. That’s it. That’s all.
Yet, we all know this has to do with God being a black woman more than anything. Realistically, didn’t we have Morgan Freeman playing God twice before in fictional movies? Bruce Almighty made $242 million domestically/$484 million worldwide. The lesser known sequel Evan Almighty came close at covering its $175 million budget. So, the protest against Morgan Freeman was weak at best.
But, there has to be a complaint about a black woman playing God fictionally? This issue is a decade too late.
Then again, how many (white) people want to see a black woman being represented as a deity? Never mind the fact that there are countless religions that sees femininity as godliness, there are still those that scoff at the idea of a black female God. Why does it scare so many people to give open praise to the one thing that you secretly love? Many hate, yet secretly love black women. And this is a sad case of events for any Christian.
Maybe I should suggest the study of Egyptian deities and Kemet for a better understanding of what William P. Young was trying to get at? I will just leave that out there.
Octavia Spencer Still Won
At the end of the day, Octavia Spencer won. No matter how much money the movie makes, she still received the chance to play a black woman as God on film. And no matter how many people decry her performance, they should have taken their issue with the author of the book. Also, they can always learn about Egyptian religion and spirituality to see where they gained their Christian ideas from. Then again, I don’t want them to become awaken to the truth too soon. I’m not sure they are ready to understand the truth about the black woman being connected directly to God.
‘Nuff Said and ‘Nuff Respect!!!
- Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae & Octavia Spencer Attend Their NYC ‘Hidden Figures’ Premiere (bossip.com)
- Taraji P. Henson & Octavia Spencer Screen ‘Hidden Figures’ in NYC With Janelle Monae (justjared.com)
- Sam Worthington suffers tragedy and finds God in trailer for ‘The Shack’ (mashable.com)
- Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner on the State of Diversity in Films: ‘Diversity Starts When You’re Casting Films’ (people.com)
- Michelle Obama Was Right On Trend in a Black Pantsuit (yahoo.com)
- John Glenn remembered by ‘Hidden Figures’ cast at premiere (bostonherald.com)
- Hidden Figures Director Theodore Melfi on Opening Doors for Women (nymag.com)
- ‘Hidden Figures’ rescues NASA women from history (sfgate.com)
- Review: Hidden Figures Proves There’s Power in Numbers (time.com)
- From ‘Moonlight’ to ‘Fences,’ Movie Awards Season Bursts with Color (voanews.com)