Black people have a lot to be thankful for in the United States this magical Christmas Day. Sadly, for Black children around the nation - of whom more than 70 percent are born out of wedlock - they were visited last night by a large, fat, jolly white man bringing toys and goodies for good little boys and girls.
No, we aren't talking about the family that adopted Michael Oher, nor the many white families that adopt Black babies... we are talking about Santa Claus, that incredibly talented white man who lives in the North Pole and, with the incredible dexterity of his many elves and 9 reindeer, visits the homes of children and bestows upon them gifts for them to open on the 25 of December:
Basically, the entire history of Santa Claus is covered in the heritage of a Western European blanket and good ole Santa is a gift-giving, corpulent white guy, capable of delivering smiles and joy to kids of all races - as long as they haven't been naughty.
"Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle or simply "Santa", is a legendary figure who, in many Western cultures, brings gifts to the homes of the good children during the late evening and overnight hours of Christmas Eve, December 24 or on his Feast Day, December 6 (Saint Nicholas Day).[ The legend may have part of its basis in hagiographical tales concerning the historical figure of gift giver Saint Nicholas. A nearly identical story is attributed by Greek and Byzantine folklore to Basil of Caesarea. Basil's feast day on January 1 is considered the time of exchanging gifts in Greece.While Saint Nicholas was originally portrayed wearing bishop's robes, today Santa Claus is generally depicted as a plump, jolly, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots. This image became popular in the United States and Canada in the 19th century due to the significant influence of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast."
What compels this altruistic turgid white guy to dedicate his entire life to bringing joy and happiness to young people? Why invest so heavily in hoping to brighten kids lives with presents under the tree and stuffed stockings of candy and toys?
Well, some Black people find this notion of a bovine white dude watching them 24/7 to be a tad overbearing and encroaching on their personal freedom, if not down right racist. The fact that he watches white kids 24/7, notwithstanding, Santa Claus is viewed by Black people as the embodiment of George Orwell's Big Brother.
Worse, some Black people have the audacity to declare Santa an unreal entity:
"Back in September, Newsweek featured an article titled “Even Babies Discriminate“. Mandy beat me to the punch and blogged about it. However, what I wanted to blog about could wait, until now.Thankfully, this view is in the clear minority, for most Black people believe in Santa Claus and more importantly, have created the myth of Santa Claus being an obese Black guy:
Towards the end of the article, we learn that teachers in a rural Ohio school read a version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in which Santa is black. They introduced the concept of Santa as a black man. At the school Christmas party, Santa showed up, and yes, he was black.
The problem is, Santa isn’t black. You know why?
Santa Claus isn’t real.
I love ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. I love Christmas in general. I watched Frosty the Snowman three times tonight. None of that changes the fact that Santa Claus is a fictional character. We don’t “do” Santa in our house. Jack is told that he is “pretend”, like the Disney Princesses and Lightning McQueen. Does he understand that? I don’t know. But I know he won’t be getting any presents from Santa, and that we do not encourage the Santa myth at all.
Now, I know that other parents like pretending Santa is real, and that’s OK, I suppose. My beef, and the reason for writing this post, is that a school was essentially teaching kids that Santa is real. Not only that, but they were teaching kids that this fictional character is black. So, then, the kids grow up, find out Santa Claus is a sham, and these kids who were so happy to learn that Santa is brown like them are doubly upset."
"And for me Santa Claus always was, is now, and always will be a black man.Yes, even though Santa Claus is a myth from the cold environment of Western Europe (and the marketing gurus of Madison Avenue) a rewrite is in order to ensure that Santa Claus embodies the new Black World that we all live in currently, to placate the national identity that is being forged, for we no longer live in Pre-Obama America.
Part of my investment in Santa's blackness derives from my personal biography. My father is a brown-skinned man who smokes a pipe and has had a full beard of gray hair since my infancy. Black Santa looks like my dad, so I am drawn to him. But my father is nothing like a jolly elf. Professor Harris is a stern disciplinarian and a politically engaged intellectual. I can't imagine anyone less likely to hang out with toy-building magical creatures while wearing a fur-trimmed red suit.
My attachment to black Santa is rooted in a fierce racial consciousness I have nurtured since childhood. In my adulthood I have revised much of my unthinking, black nationalist assumptions. My feminist commitments, interracial political work, and emerging cosmopolitan sensibilities make me somewhat less likely to exercise an automatic preferential option for blackness. This journey of political consciousness is also reflected in my holiday choices.
As a kid, black Santa represented a benevolent spirit of goodness and kindness directed toward African American children. Black Santa cared about little girls who look like me. I did not need blue eyes or blond ringlet curls for black Santa to find me adorable. Black Santa did not put a blond baby doll under my tree. He knew that I needed to rock, hold and nurture a baby doll with brown skin and kinky hair. Black Santa expected Nat King Cole to be playing on the stereo when he arrived on Christmas Eve.
Symbols matter. They help shape our understanding of national culture and identity. A president is not a country, but he embodies the national identity. Santa is the secular, commercial symbol of a religious holiday, but he nonetheless embodies the popular imagination of the holiday.
It is time for Americans to get comfortable with black Santa."
Anything white that reminds people of The Greatest Generation must be replaced with a prominent Black face and Santa Claus is a symbol of ethnocentrism so pervasive that Black children find the image of a Black Santa as alien as white people do:
Santa Claus is a paragon of virtue, kindness and sharing and for these traits to be synonymous with a fat, bearded, white guy is not only racist and vile, but insulting to Black people who hope to remake Santa in the image of a Black man once and for all. White people can't have any positive symbols anymore to share with the world and culturally speaking, Santa Claus must be recast as a Tyler Perry character in the hopes of forever placing a Black man squarely in the residence of the North Pole once and for all.
"In keeping with that spirit of diversity, several dozen families attended a recent holiday party at the West Medford Community Center, where an African-American Santa fielded toy requests from tiny tots while handing out candy canes. Cosponsored by the New England Alliance of Multiracial Families, the event, the 11th to feature a Santa Claus of color, attracted parents and children for whom encountering a black Santa (with a white Mrs. Claus standing alongside him) was not just a curiosity but a priority.
Deleatra Bolton of Malden, accompanied by her husband and two young children, said it was refreshing to find a "nontraditional" Santa in a state like Massachusetts, where such sightings tend to be rare. In Maryland, the state she'd lived in previously, black Santas are far more commonplace than up North, Bolton said.
"In our house at Christmas, all the angels and Santas are black," Bolton said over the fa-la-la of holiday music emanating from a boombox. "My daughter is 4 and just starting to realize about race." This year, she said, her daughter had wondered aloud why there was a black Santa at home and a white Santa at the mall. "I told her that Santa can change his color depending on whichever house he visits, and that what's important about Santa is what's on the inside, not the outside," Bolton said with a smile."
Santa Claus was once a white gentlemen, who had consumed quite a few to many meals and became the portly, lovably benevolent septuagenarian who all children love to visit at the mall and then impart upon him their most coveted secrets: what they want for Christmas.
For Black children to continue to be told that only a white person can grant them these wishes on Christmas Day reinforces negative stereotypes about the patriarch role of the white man as being forever the protector of Black people:
"Students at St. Stephen Elementary School found out last week that Santa Claus can have the same skin color as them.
That's because two Santa Clauses — one white, one black — were invited to the rural Berkeley County school at separate times last Friday to take pictures with students of the same skin color.
Principal Willa Norton's decision to invite two Santas has drawn criticism from a few parents and from two civil rights organizations, which said the school shouldn't have divided the students by race without asking parents first.
Marguerite Lyons, who found out about the two Santas while picking up her son outside the school Thursday, said dividing the children by race smacked of prejudice. All the children should have seen one Santa, she said.
"I don't care if (Santa) was Chinese or Puerto Rican," said Lyons, who is black. "Everyone's the same."
Norton said everything was done to benefit a student population that is predominantly black and from low-income families. More than 97 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch, and 75 percent are black.
She said most of the children probably wouldn't have a chance to meet Santa otherwise, and she wanted to use the opportunity to let students know that the possibilities are endless.
"It was just an opportunity for my kids to be exposed to a Santa who looks like them," said Norton, who is black. "I just want my kids to know that everyone can do all kinds of things."
She said she even tried to find a Hispanic Santa for the handful of Hispanic children and an Asian Santa Claus for the school's one Asian child.
Parent Jay Paulin, who is black, said he liked that his daughter and the other children could talk and take pictures with a black Santa.
"It shows (Santa) can look like them too," Paulin said.
Norton said she told all of the 489 children that the Santas they met weren't the real Santa, just his helpers who agreed to take pictures while the real one prepared for Christmas."
No, the end of Santa Claus' reign as a white man incapable of hitting the gym is upon us and the correct and racially sensitive image of Santa Claus as a Black person is soon to be the norm in the United States of America. Whiteness is the first causality of diversity and Santa Claus' traditional whiteness must go. He - as an obese white man - is a callous example of cultural imperialism by white people upon the colored masses of the nation.
ATLANTA -- The man in the big chair taking Christmas requests at The Mall at Stonecrest might not fit the image most Americans have of Santa Claus. Though he has a beard, wears a red velvet suit and is pleasantly plump, this St. Nick is African-American.Santa Claus' days a white guy are numbered, and for many this moment couldn't come soon enough:
Two years ago, during the first Christmas season at the newly opened mall in Lithonia, a suburb east of Atlanta, a white Santa was on hand to grant holiday wishes. Then requests started pouring in from African-Americans who said they wanted a Santa their children could relate to. Before long, there were two Santas at the mall, one black and one white.
"They had to try and meet the needs of their clientele, about an equal mixture of African-Americans and whites. I think they are doing that real well by offering both," said Myron Mills, 41, the black Santa who greets children on weekend evenings. "In addition to that, we have put a spin on it. I'm also a unique Santa because I sing."
Like Stonecrest, suburban shopping malls across the country have had to address the issue of diversity during the holiday season. Not only does it apply to Santa's skin color, but it means offering black-theme holiday cards in the Hallmark store, stocking Hispanic-looking dolls in toy shops and selling ethnic designed tree ornaments from carts in the mall hallways.
While African-American community groups and churches in many urban areas have long provided black Santas for children to visit, suburban malls -- where Santa is often the major attraction during the holidays -- often have not, despite efforts dating back to the civil rights era. In the 1960s, for example, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference boycotted Federated Department Stores to get them to hire a black Santa in Cincinnati.
While resistance to the idea remains in some places, diversity has gained support in recent years.
"As people become more culturally sensitive, we are beginning to see more diversity in icons such as Santa Claus. It is becoming more prevalent because America is experiencing a clashing of cultures and a transition," said Deborah Williams, a diversity consultant at Leadership Edge Management Consultants in Atlanta.
"It is difficult because our society has traditionally been based on white dominance. But in this evolution, the needs of changing communities will have to be addressed. And over time, people will become more comfortable with two Santas, a black Santa or one of another ethnicity."
For 9-year-old Zachary Kimmel, a white child who was waiting in line, there is no reasonable explanation for two Santas.
"It's freaky," said the third-grader, who lives in Conyers. "I don't get it because it doesn't keep with the legend of Santa Claus. Everybody knows Santa Claus is white."
His mother, Angie Venham, 35, said she made a conscious decision to come to the mall when the white Santa was on duty.
"There is nothing wrong with people having a selection so they can choose the one they want," she said. "We just wanted to keep down the confusion. You heard the boy."
Jack Greene, 69, a white who is working his 12th year as a Santa and his third at Stonecrest, said he has not noticed a difference in the preference of black and white families.
"Black people don't seem to care that much whether Santa is black or white. I have just as many black kids as white," said Greene. "In fact, some of the black people have said they prefer a white Santa."
Mills, the African-American Santa, said about 95 percent of the children he sees are black or Hispanic."
Black Santa toys and decorations are big sells in the Black community and make economic sense for those companies deciding that 13 percent of the United States population is worth placating with merchandise.
"Like shopping for gifts then wrapping them up, some Christmas traditions rarely change. But there's one classic image of the holiday season that seems to be changing color. Still, true believers don't seem to mind.
Black Santas in predominantly African-American neighborhoods have become a regular thing for the holiday season, but lately we see more and more in areas that are mostly non-black.
"Santa is so symbolic in these times and a Santa is a Santa. Kids see no color they just see Santa and they know who he is and they know what he stands for," said Carlton Benjamin, a professional Santa Claus.
Greenpoint, Brooklyn is known as New York City's polish enclave. Yet black Santa is a hit.
Barry Perlmutter owns a company that is a Santa agency of sorts with a multi-cultural crew of Santas ready to be dispatched to any venue in need of a freelance Father Christmas.
Perlmutter said, "I might hear from an adult, not really a child: 'Oh, that's a black Santa or sometimes we have a Spanish Santa and the adults more than the children might feel a little weird, but I want to make sure that we have a diversified group of Santa Clauses that can go anywhere anytime and make everybody happy."
And everybody's happy here at a store in the suburban town of Bay Shore, New York where customers are predominantly white, but their Santa is black -- and good for business, too.
For some kids in this suburban neighborhood, it didn't even occur to them that Santa is black. When asked if they noticed anything different about him, they struggled to find an answer.
But some of the older children did notice something was a bit different.
"He's black," said 9-year-old Michael."
Stuff Black People Don't Like includes the traditional views of Santa Claus, even though the myth of a magnanimous elderly individual who bestows presents to morally upright children originated in Europe. Santa - in this current era- is Black and he has a few things in common with Tiger Woods, although Santa has always stopped at three hos.
Black children - and all non-white kids - must learn that the era of white dominance is over, and with the it, the noxious notion of a white Santa Claus too.