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?Black Jesus? Causes Race row in America

The casting of a Black actor in the role of Jesus in an Easter season play in New Jersey has created controversy and racial conflict. The play, a dramatization of the final days of Christ, entitled ?The Passion Play?, features African- American Desi Arnaz Giles as Jesus. Since the play began at the Park Performing Arts Center in Union City, New Jersey, the 34 year old actor, television stunt man and model has received race-connected death threats, hate mail and obscene telephone calls. Some theatergoers have also cancelled their tickets to the play.
According to Giles ?the death threats didn?t scare me. I?m a born-again christian, and I?ve been trusting God all my life. But I?m at a point in my life, spiritually, where I am, in fact, ready to die. I?m not necessarily looking forward to it because one of my prayers is that I want to live to be 200.?
The news of the race- hate campaign has however generated support for Giles from all sections of the American community with some White people apologising for the actions of members of their race.
?I?m getting fan mail at the theater.? said Giles ?I?m even getting e-mail from out-of-state. And there?s been just so much of an outpouring of support from the African- American community. In fact, I?m even getting apologies from the caucasian population.?
According to director Eric Hafen, Giles was chosen for the part, after he took part in an open audition, for two reasons: his acting ability and a ?certain spiritual quality,? not because of his race.
Desi Giles attributes his present success to God whom he describes as ?his agent?.
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