Just a quick note to link you to a very full and extensive interview with Ed Blum and myself, at the UNC Press blog, about (I'll give you two guesses) -- that's right, about The Color of Christ. A brief excerpt:
Q: When did the white American Jesus first become prominent?
A: Americans en masse began to see and produce Jesus as white only after the colonial period, after the Great Awakenings, and after the American Revolution. It was a time of great concern. Americans worried about what the nation would be religiously after church disestablishment with the Constitution; they increasingly struggled over slavery as the South expanded its cotton kingdom; they were networked together more tightly through new roads, canals, railroads, newspapers, and goods; and they debated the morality of driving into Native American lands. In these decades, white Protestants began printing images of Jesus as white and sending them throughout the nation. It was at this moment that a white Jesus was first used to try and bring unity and purpose to the young nation.
These decades also gave rise to the first Americans who challenged the whiteness of Jesus. William Apess, a Native American in New England, was the first to explicitly denounce the white Jesus as an emblem of white power. Ridiculing whites for oppressing African American and Native Americans, Apess insisted that whites knew that Jesus was not white, that he was “a man of color.” Hardly anyone at the time listened.