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Why White Santa Is Important

The weekly socio-political commentary from activist, Perry Redd

The weekly socio-political commentary from activist, Perry Redd

Merry Christmas to all of those who are still clinging to the images of American tradition that so warmed our hearts as children of the Baby Boom era.  As toddlers, we were taught the mainstream method to celebrate Christmas, thus “how to be American.”

Just last week, Fox News commentator Megyn Kelly thought it necessary to inform the children who might have been watching the show that Santa Claus is white.  “For you kids watching at home,” Kelly said during her show last week, “Santa just is White. But this person is arguing that maybe we should also have a Black Santa.”  She issued this advisement in response to a Black blogger who suggested that we should just be colorblind.

Kelly’s aggressive defense of Santa Claus—and all that is “traditional” in America—is not new, nor surprising.  Ever since the reforms that set civil rights legislation in place, white Americans have been making stalwart attempts to “protect” the traditions they’ve created, regardless of the insult, offense or harm caused to those of other races, religions, cultures or faiths. 

During my lifetime, I recall the early days of the Moral Majority, the prominent pro-American political organization associated with the Christian right. It was founded in 1979 and dissolved in the late 1980s. I recall the coded language of social protectionism during the Republican Revolution of the early 90’s.  I remember Bill O’ Reilly coining the “Culture Wars,” his attempt to safeguard the white American value system. This was all enacted within a climate of fear.  Fear that white men were losing their stranglehold on domination of the American mainstream.

As you may well know, we’ve got 17 states that recognize same-sex marriage, women in combat, Hispanic population on the rise, a Black president—and two Blacks in a Senate of 100 (like that’s progress). 

But just for good measure, Megyn Kelly went the extra mile to say, “Jesus was a white man, too. It’s like we have, he’s a historical figure that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just want kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy in the story and change Santa from white to black?”  This was a line in the sand drawn before liberal sympathizers all over America.  In other words, “this is ours, and don’t you f—k with it!”  Of course, you know me, as far as I’m concerned, they can have him!  Santa Claus is as far from my household as satan is.  I don’t want him in and he’s not particularly welcomed.

For all my childhood, Santa had been designed for white children.  He lived in a cold climate, only hired little people and slid down chimneys.  I lived in an apartment in the urban inner city—there were no damned chimneys!  Santa Clause was meant for a people with grand resources.  It was impossible for him to get in our building without someone knowing… 

When I became a father, the era was an American culture battle over putting black dolls in stores for black children, much less, a Black Santa.  I recall traveling to store after store in search of a doll that reflected my daughter’s personhood.  White parents acted like they couldn’t understand why that was important to us.  Now that times have changed, the traditionalists haven’t.

I implore Black people to resist hanging on to a tradition which you didn’t create.  The traditions of Christmas and Thanksgiving were created to honor and humor whites in America; Blacks were expected to simply follow along.  Assimilation is the demand of white Americans without regard to the cultural differences of other Americans.  I find it wholly unacceptable at this stage of my life.  So I did something about it.

For over a decade, my family and I have been celebrating these holiday periods by unapologetically observing Kwanzaa, the African American and Pan-African holiday celebrated by millions throughout the world African community. Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. 

As opposed to the principles of capitalism that Christmas embraces, Kwanzaa is to be engaged in an ancient and living cultural tradition which reflects the best of African thought and practice in its reaffirmation of the dignity of the human person in community and culture, the well-being of family and community, the integrity of the environment and our kinship with it, and the rich resource and meaning of a people’s culture. 

From the separatist attitudes of the likes of Megyn Kelly, I have to pay attention.  She voices what other whites think.  It is abundantly clear that they don’t want me messing in their tradition…they got that.  I shall “do me.” I understand why Santa is important to them, though I may not agree with the fear that under which they live.  It is their choice. So to my readers during this holiday season, Hobari Gani…Heri Za Kwanzaa!


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