Trigger Warning with Killer Mike season 1, episode 4 recap: New Jesus


Episode 4 of Netflix series ‘Trigger Warning with Killer Mike’ looks at a controversial topic: Black churches worshiping a “white Jesus.”

Trigger Warning with Killer Mike hasn’t shied away from controversial topics, and episode 4 of season 1 may be the most controversial of all. Any time you challenge a person’s religion in any sense, you may have an argument on your hands. Rapper and host Michael “Killer Mike” Render looks at that possibility and seems to simply shrug it off. In fact, the episode begins with the following James Baldwin quote:  “Because I was raised in a Christian culture, I never considered myself to be a totally free human being.”

He lists a number of issues in the black community, like education, drugs, gun violence, teenage pregnancy and poverty. However, Killer Mike expresses great dislike at worshiping a white Jesus, considering it an extension of oppression. He notes that, when it comes to black worshipers, they are “Praying to a god that don’t even look like you.” In seeking answers, Mike interviews televangelist Creflo Dollar, a black man who has a talk show, a private jet and a gospel of prosperity (presumably to help justify his private jet).

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Mike doesn’t hold back, telling Dollar that “Christianity is bad for black people” and that he wants to see a black savior or messiah. They discuss characterizations of Jesus in the Bible, such as passages mentioning Jesus as having bronzed feet. However, if you look into this topic, you’ll find all kinds of varying claims about Jesus’ appearance, from being “Aryan” to being Jewish to being African. At the very least, one might think Jesus would have a tan, being that he lived, worked and preached in a desert environment. In any case, Mike doesn’t get much help from Dollar, so he turns to a pal for help.

The Sleepy savior

Trigger Warning with Killer Mike introduces us to a man named Sleep, who happens to be a childhood chum of Mike’s. Why is called “Sleep” (or “Sleepy”)? Because that’s how he always looks. The man rarely talks. In fact, he seems to not say a single word in the entire episode. However, Mike tells us his saying is “F*** hope, do dope.” Is he well-equipped to become a messiah for Killer Mike’s new religion? For Mike it’s never even debated. They both visit author Patrick Goines to discuss their new religion and its direction, ultimately to be known as “The Book of Sleep.” Goines is pretty well on board.

They then visit Vikki Hankins of VMH Media & Publishing, to pitch their bible on the philosophy of Sleep. She says it’s “not her style,” so they head to the Big Bethel AME Church in Atlanta. Mike stands outside with a bullhorn to promote the religion, but only some people are interested. His initial followers meet in his barber shop later, with one asking [about “white Jesus”], “Why would I pray to something that doesn’t look like me?”

Arianna Huffington

Not satisfied solely with a religious angle, Trigger Warning with Killer Mike looks at the science of sleep, consulting Arianna Huffington, author of The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time. She says, “Sleep is not optional. It’s the foundation of a healthy, good and giving life.” She adds that being sleep deprived makes one angrier and less well-connected to others. It sounds good enough for Mike.

At their first congregation, Mike gives the early disciples pillows, blankets and an empty book for writing down their thoughts. While they sleep, Mike tells us that, “For black people, sleep and rest carry a stigma,” noting that slaves were harshly punished for sleeping in. He says that, “Culturally, we have de-valued sleep.” Upon waking up, they share their thoughts with Sleepy, who mostly just stares vacantly back at them. Later, the congregation gives their pillows and blankets to the homeless

A church of Sleep?

Later, everyone heads to the Blue Flame Lounge strip club. There Mike suggests his emphasis on “white Jesus” may have missed the point. It’s not merely bowing to him that’s a problem, and asks “Why are people bowing at all?” The episode suggests that, in so many words, “You should just be you,” and that “You don’t have to be a martyr everyday.” He also distributes blue robes to anyone who doesn’t need to hear other people’s issues at the moment. People take them freely and Mike declares himself “Free from the shackles of white Jesus.”

Controversy rating: 7.6/10

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Given that this episode addresses religion, it’s automatically a candidate for controversy. Then you have Mike’s statements like “Christianity is bad for black people,” and his emphasis on disliking “white Jesus,” and the premise that people shouldn’t worship someone who looks different from them. One may even agree with these statements, but there’s no denying they are potentially controversial.

What are your thoughts on Trigger Warning with Killer Mike? Let us know in the comments!