A little self-deprecation here. Saunders was only age 54 when giving this speech, and his best years certainly aren’t behind him—in 2013 he published a collection of short stories, Tenth of December, to widespread acclaim.
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“Christ is a nigger” in two senses: in the historical sense as a brown-skinned Jew like other Jews of his day, with a brown-skinned mother—both later adopted into the white West and given a lily-white heavenly father; and in the symbolic sense of Jesus as an alien presence, preaching an exacting spirituality, a foreign religion as it were, much as the black man, with his different color and culture, is an alien presence in the South. Each is a scapegoat sacrificed for the society’s sins.