In Chicago, the snow has finally come! Families have decorated their homes and stores have chimed in to the holiday spirit. This is the time where holidays really feel like holidays. I always had a soft spot for Christmas. It’s a time where you can give, receive and eat well.
I recently stumbled upon a blog written by Slate Culture blogger Aisha Harris and also viewed the debate about Harris’ proposal that Christmas should have a more culturally universal figure instead of a White Santa led by Megyn Kelly on Fox News. It was almost too entertaining to hear Megyn make it known to kids who didn’t know or maybe doubt that Santa Claus is white. And Jesus too.
In my recent blog “Do We See God or Color,” I discuss the physical appearance of Jesus Christ as well as biblical verses that even state he was far from White. But Santa Claus is of course a fictitious figure, associated with the Pagan god, Odin and figures from Scandinavian and Dutch folklore tales. But the tradition has been that his skin is pale. Pale as snow.
Blacks haven’t raised much resistance to the holiday or the holidays that indicate such triumph in our culture that goes uncelebrated and unacknowledged (like Juneteenth). We have taken on much of American culture than that would be our own like Kwaanza. I’m sure there’s African folklore, but that would be more for those that are first or second generation African.
Blacks have always been left with idols and figures created and reconstructed by Whites. Not only are American holidays filled with White figures, but the deity most Blacks worship is also of that skin tone. Megyn goes on to say that “Jesus is white” and that he “is what he is,” directing her comments to kids that may have been watching the discussion.
I didn’t read anywhere in Aisha’s blog that it was racist to make Santa Claus White, but what she did say is that most figures are made to be White, from Barbie dolls to super heroes. Blacks have a very small number figures, both real and fictitious to look up to and due to the colorism and racism that comes along with it, we tend to uphold White figures higher than our own.
What white people in America fail to acknowledge is they always had the PRIVILEGE of seeing their image upheld. I honestly wondered how well would they take it if they DID have to worship a god of dark skin or be surrounded by dark skin figures. To see a Black Superman or Batman? To see a Black Seinfield or Black Ellen Denegeneres?
Whites digress from the confrontation they ARE uncomfortable with the grounds leveling with Blacks. They disregard it, say “it’s ridiculous” or claim we are making this too personal, but to change what YOU know according to what someone ELSE thinks is acceptable doesn’t feel too good doesn’t it? Blacks are highly familiar with this. And currently, we don’t know ENOUGH of our culture, enough of our history, enough of ourselves.
“Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change.” Megyn says. Cleopatra clearly didn’t have pale skin, but White actress Elizabeth Taylor played the part. Blacks have had to change their appearance, their behavior, and accents to make White people “feel comfortable.” From straightening our hair to “talking white,” we change.
Why are OUR images whitewashed or completely omitted? Because it won’t sell or just doesn’t make you feel comfortable to look up and see an image that has ALWAYS been a representation of what is suppose to be inferior to you, now neck to neck?
“How do you just revise it in the middle of the legacy…from white to black?” Megyn asks.
Whether people know it or not, believe it not, there WERE Black Jews or shall I say, dark complected Jews. Biblical figures who were in the lands of Africa have now been depicted as White in movies. Historical figures that were of dark skin has been omitted from our history classes. There’s even some belief that Egyptians, who are African, because you know Egypt IS in Africa, didn’t build their own pyramids. A movie that was supposed to be about the Egyptian gods have created a stir, raised a petition due to an ALL WHITE cast.
Where’s the accuracy in that legacy?
I even saw an Othello ad, a well known play written by Shakespeare himself, that had a white or rather light complected male lead. Othello was a Moor. Moors were dark skinned. If Santa Claus is not Black to Aisha then she doesn’t have to accept it. Megyn’s statements aren’t factual but they’re standard. Because American society has made it so that White is the default.
It’s really not relative to Aisha’s culture as a Black woman. Like, I’m sure no one White thinks Fat Albert is. Sorry, he’s the only fictious figure I could think of that was big and wore red due to the limit of Black fictitious figures. We don’t have any Black figures for Christmas, even though we’re just as American as White people are.
It seems instead of listening and understanding, Megyn quickly concluded that Aisha said it was racist for Santa Claus to be White. The trend of White people jumping to the defense of being called a racist only makes me think they probably think they are. When in reality there would be racist remarks if he suddenly wasn’t and it would shut down Facebook and Twitter if we decided to be “politically incorrect.”
Suzanne Miller who has wrote the popular book, “Hunger Games,” unintentionally created a stir when moviegoers set Twitter on fire with their racist marks about the character Rue, who Catniss had a close, almost sister like relationship with. Saying “I almost cried when Rue died, but because she was Black,” made me think White people have just as long way to go.
From the moment you’re able to distinguish Black from White, depending on what side of you fence you stayed on, you either felt included or left out. The constant desire to be seen as American, celebrated as such, regardless of your skin color is something Blacks DESERVE to have. Our ancestors, grandparents, parents have worked and sacrificed much if all we know for it.
So drink your egg nog, have a few cookies, and marvel at the tradition that Santa Claus has always been White Megyn.
And Jesus too.