Santa Claus Controversy

Hi WordPressers!

I’m sure by now, everyone has heard the whole spiel about Santa. Am I right? Good, just wanted to make sure. Personally, I find it downright irritating and I am amazed we’re even discussing (read: arguing) about this silly and dated issue.

I, personally, am appalled that we even still give a damn what color Santa, or anybody else for that matter, is. However, I do realize that some people for some incomprehensible reason still care, especially when they’ve been unfortunate enough to have spent most or all of their lives in a place where they were rarely exposed to someone who was a different color than them.

Recently, I took a trip to  a suburb of St. Louis and visited my best friend’s grandma. Very nice lady, don’t get me wrong. But, wouldn’t you be offended if someone said to you, “Why are you so dark?” with a puzzled face, “Beautiful, but…?” Having been lucky enough to never have experienced racism in my life, I was dumbfounded. I said, “Uh…” Thinking, “I’m Puerto Rican?” Like, was that the right answer? I realized later that day that it wasn’t. It was the answer she was looking for, yes. But it wasn’t accurate. You see, my sister has Asian-colored skin, if you will. Our mom, has white skin. Me, dark skin. So, considering the differences in our skin colors, the reason I’m dark cannot be explained away by my family ethnicity. I was just born this way. That’s it. That’s the honest-to-goodness explanation for it. But, I never thought there needed to be an explanation; hence my hesitation and confusion at the question.

Which brings me back to Santa. I cannot remember how that story was related to Santa in my mind, but I know there was a purpose for telling it when I started typing! Anyway, St. Nick.

Okay, so nobody ever actually gets to see Santa. If it were that simple, his skin color truly would not matter. However, we live in a materialistic and commercial culture in which Santa Claus is marketed to children and by extension, I suppose, parents as well.

I read a story in which a woman said, in other, more descriptive terms, that she felt bad about herself as a child because Santa was white and she is black. My question is, why? Why would you base your self-worth on anyone else’s (Santa included) skin color? Why did the depiction of Santa as white make you feel like less of a person? Surely someone else  in your family was black? Surely you had some friends who were the same color as you?

Moving on, once again.

So, in a society where, supposedly, people of light and dark skin alike are equals, why do we care what color Santa Claus is? Why does a white Santa make some black people feel badly or like they’re worth less? Would the same thing happen to white people if Santa were black? Is that why so many white people are defending Santa’s skin color so fiercely? Does Santa being white, as seems very important at this point, give white people a sense of pride or power? Perhaps I’m so blind to color and race that I simply don’t understand the possible complexity or emotional-investment involved in this little issue. I purposefully call it ‘little’. Trust me, we have bigger problems as a nation. Much, much bigger.

Has Santa historically been white? Yes. Am I opposed to stirring up the status quote? No. Do I think it’s okay to change Santa’s image? Yes. But, do I think we’re doing it for the wrong reasons? YES. I’m partial to the notion that children should be allowed to believe that Santa is their same color, that he matches whatever family he’s visiting. I also don’t think that’s necessary. I don’t think we should teach children that a stranger coming into their house unannounced is somehow more acceptable or less frightening because he’s the same color as that child’s family. Or, for that matter, that if he comes baring gifts it’s all okay. It isn’t.

I don’t think we should be shielding them in this way from other races. They do exist. It must be impossible to avoid or ignore. And for that matter, why shouldn’t there then also be an Asian Santa, a Native American one, a Middle Eastern one, and so on? Why even choose? Santa was depicted as white in my family when I was growing up. I thought he was adorable! But then, I never even noticed the color of his skin. Just his rosy-red cheeks (which can happen on black skin as well) and his awesome bright red attire. That’s it. Oh, and I loved Rudolph and thought it was really cool that he lived in a place as cold and snowy as the North Pole. I love snow! Okay, that’s it. Really, though, why are all the reindeer brown? Were Dasher’s antlers a lighter color than Prancer’s antlers? Seriously, how far are we going to take this?

I’m with Slate! I love the view Slate put forth that St. Nick should be a penguin. Why? Because, penguins are black & white! Gotta love the penguins. Here’s the link to the brilliant article, enjoy.: