This will be my toddler’s first Christmas away from Brooklyn, New York. Not that he would remember, but in his first photos with Santa, Santa is black. I really liked that the first Santa my son saw “in person” resembled him a lot more than the traditional one. Not sure any malls in Orlando, Florida will be offering that option, though.
I’ve been thinking about this recently thanks to Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and her commentary on the Aisha Harris piece in Slate, Santa Claus Should Not Be A White Man Anymore. She moved from condescension to almost anger, to actually addressing kids at home,
Yet another person claiming it’s racist to have a white Santa. And by the way for all of you kids watching at home, Santa just is white, but this person is arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa. Santa is what he is.
Harris makes no mention of racism in her piece, she just laments the notion that Santa should be inclusive to all cultures that celebrate the Santa fantasy around the holidays. I agree; why not? He’s made up. He can be whatever we want him to be. He doesn’t exist in reality. As a mother of mixed race children, it makes no sense to me to just default to “white Santa.” If Santa is a figment of all of our imaginations – I want my child to celebrate one that looks like them. Or not. Basically – I want to let them know that he is many different things to many different people.
In a country that is moving away from a white majority – I don’t even see why redefining the Santa fantasy is a big deal. Growing up, my black friends had pictures of black Santa in their homes. I wasn’t confused by this at all – even as a grade-schooler my mind could wrap around the idea that people identified with others that looked like them. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with raising children to question these kinds of things.
So if my children actually ask me one day, Why is Santa black in our house and white at my friend’s house? I can respond by saying – he’s whatever people want him to be. No one’s ever seen him in person – so we’re all guessing. I think that is a little more sane than insisting that a fictional character is any race at all.
(photo: Maria Guido)