Okay, so many you have sent me emails asking for my take on FOX News host, Megyn Kelly, and her controversial comments. For those of you unaware, Megyn Kelly has come under fire for comments made on her show in response to an article written by Aisha Harris on Slate, titled “Santa Claus Should Not Be a White Man Anymore“. Harris’ article articulated her frustration as a black child growing up in a world with two racially different versions of Santa Claus. Of her experience as a child, in her piece, Harris writes the following:
When I was a kid, I knew two different Santa Clauses. The first had a fat belly, rosy cheeks, a long white beard, and skin as pink as bubble gum. He was omnipresent, visiting my pre-school and the local mall, visible in all of my favorite Christmas specials.
Then there was the Santa in my family’s household, in the form of ornaments, cards, and holiday figurines. A near-carbon copy of the first one—big belly, rosy cheeks, long white beard: check, check, check. But his skin was as dark as mine.
Seeing two different Santas was bewildering. Eventually I asked my father what Santa really looked like. Was he brown, like us? Or was he really a white guy?
My father replied that Santa was every color. Whatever house he visited, jolly old St. Nicholas magically turned into the likeness of the family that lived there.
In hindsight, I see this explanation as the great Hollywood spec script it really is. (Just picture the past-their-prime actors who could share the role. Robert De Niro! Eddie Murphy! Jackie Chan! I smell a camp classic.) But at the time, I didn’t buy it. I remember feeling slightly ashamed that our black Santa wasn’t the “real thing.” Because when you’re a kid and you’re inundated with the imagery of a pale seasonal visitor—and you notice that even some black families decorate their houses with white Santas—you’re likely to accept the consensus view, despite your parents’ noble intentions.
Two decades later, America is less and less white, but a melanin-deficient Santa remains the default in commercials, mall casting calls, and movies. Isn’t it time that our image of Santa better serve all the children he delights each Christmas?
A very good question, in my opinion. As a child growing up in the Caribbean, I too questioned the cultural and ethnic identity of Santa Claus. More to that point, I always wondered why in the world did we even pit up a Christmas tree decorated with snow, when I had never seen as much as one snowflake in my life. And then, like Harris, I always wondered why Santa Claus never looked anything like me when the closest thing to “whiteness” I knew on the island, happened to be a few my great aunts who could pass for white women, thanks to my white Scottish great-grandfather.
But curiosity aside, here is what Megyn Kelly said:
So, do we really need to reinforce that narrative by adding the mythology of a Kunta Claus?
When it comes to Jesus and Santa being white, like Megyn Kelly, I thought everyone knew this to be true. Certainly if Jesus wasn’t white, there’s no way that my grandmother would have had a picture of a blond-haired blue-eyed Jesus on her wall when I was a kid. And let me tell you, my granny went to church eight days a week and three times on Sunday. So when I say my granny knew Jesus, trust me, she was practically dating the man; so, with that said I’m sure she knew he was in fact the same man in that picture on her wall and not some Palestinian-looking guy from the middle-east like religious scholar Reza Aslan claims. I’m just saying: my granny taught me a lot, and she had to learn it from somewhere; and I’m sure it wasn’t from watching FOX.
My grandmother will be 100-years-old a few days after Christmas this year. Yes, and she still lives in the Caribbean. That said, there’s no way in hell that I or any of you can convince her that Megyn Kelly, and all the Megyn Kelly’s of the world are wrong. Forget about the whitewashing of history or that through slavery and colonization religion was introduced to Africans and their descendants in the new world by men who looked exactly like my white Scottish great-grandfather. You know, the descendants of the same white men who invented Christianity for political reasons?
Yes, let’s not have that debate; yes, let’s leave that out of it and instead minimize the growing pains of people of color like this. You know, sort of like what Megyn Kelly did when she blatantly disregarded how it must feel to be black? Especially to be black and live in two worlds?
Look, Santa Claus is as white as Jesus Christ and he needs to stay that way. I mean, lord forbid if in our quest for post-racial bliss we start accepting the idea of a black Santa Claus and subject him to racial profiling, being shot by overzealous police officers or neighborhood watch captains. Or face the possibility of being wrongfully incarcerated like many black men in America. Not to mention the indignity of not being able to find paid work when not attempting to bring Chistmas cheer. Or even worse, having his birth certificate questioned in an attempt to undermine his legitimacy.
I could go on and on, but hopefully you get where I’m coming from on this one. Besides, if Santa was black, what reason would white folks have to visit the ghetto once a year in the spirit of love, just to be able to feel better about themselves. So yeah, why start changing now and making certain folks uncomfortable?