Do You Love My Black Santa Claus?

Photo courtesy of the author

Photo courtesy of the author

Dear fellow Christmas lovin’ white parents,

Do you love my Black Santa Claus? If you look around your home and see that you are celebrating a purely white Christmas, do you ever wonder why many of us are stuck with dominant white traditions? I must confess, I am new to writing about race issues. I am no expert, but rather I have been forced by my unexpected life journey to face my own white demons, and I have been thinking in this particular Christmas season about how mean spirited and unfairly dominant our traditional Santa Claus might be.

I am a white Mom, who adopted three beautiful girls of different races. Last week I showed my three daughters a picture of a bunch of Santa Clauses of different skin colors, and asked which ones they liked best. They agreed that they loved them all so much because they were all different. The fact that the Santas were diverse, made my girls smile.

Last night, I sat with my black Latina eight-year-old daughter on my lap and we talked about the marches and “die in” protests in New York over the death of Eric Garner, a black man from Staten Island who was killed in a chokehold after telling police that he could not breathe. My daughter’s huge almond eyes looked deep into my blue eyes as I told her about racism, and why protestors shouted, “I can’t breathe.” Although I had not yet said that the officer was white, she interrupted me to ask if he was. She already knows!

I told her about the struggles of people of color now, and I told her that many white people, including her Mama and Dada, are allies. But I also had to tell her that not all white people are ready to change. This was bad news. I mean, I had to tell my daughter that some ignorant morons might not be able to see how brilliant she is, simply because her skin is brown. I felt a chasm between us last night, opening up like a huge dangerous mouth of bloody teeth.

As we chatted, I wished I was anything but white, and not for the first time. But perhaps my voice and yours can in some small way join the strong black chorus roaring through America.

Please share and teach your children to share too. Your white children are friends with mine for now but already they enjoy a white privilege that threatens to cast a shadow on the light of my children and all the other beautiful children who look like them.

In December, Santa Claus is an envoy of our dominant, white cultural traditions. Let him be a better diplomat. Let us all wait for a Santa to come who can look like all of us, like every color on earth.

For kids, it’s the little things that matter. If you do Christmas in any way in your home, then Santa is a pretty influential guy. Let him be black too. Your kids will appreciate that he looks like their brown skinned friends, who can be represented equally in our world. If you do Christmas in a really big way, it’s time to bring in Jesus and his entire party in to your house, in their true and glorious colors.

Santa can give our children toys and books that represent our diverse world. Consider also if the companies that make these toys and books take advantage of their workers. Let’s look at the stores where we shop, or the huge corporations that own them. Do they help create a fair world?

Let’s start to question our norms. How can we help all of our children to experience a truly fair and balanced world?

Fellow White Parents, as we enter this holiday season amidst the greatest swelling conversation on race in America since the start of the civil rights movement, consider that we are an integral part of the solution to racism and peace on earth.

What can we do? We can use our imaginations, look at things with fresh eyes, and share our opinions. We can do many little things at home, and take part in the big things such as the marches, workshops and petitions.

Let’s read about racism from black authors and leaders and inform ourselves, then talk about race and racism and equality with our kids.

We can build a diverse community for our families. Look at our friendships, look at the people we hire at the office, the people whom we choose to teach us, those we follow, our local governments, our local board of education. Is there diverse representation, and do they work for and represent all of us equally? We’ve all been brainwashed by a white dominant tradition, but we can re-program ourselves. If you’re already on your way to re-programming, or are way ahead of me, give me a hand too. I want to learn.

Let’s be critical of television, film, and commercialism when it comes to race. I love the great holiday movie Elf, but why couldn’t Buddy or his girlfriend have been black or brown? It would not have changed the story, but it would have been a better movie.

Look at our children’s toys. Do they represent people of color? How about the books in our homes? When I pick up a children’s book at my local store, I have learned to flip through the pictures first. If the pictures are uniformly of white kids, I put the book down. Books are powerful.

If we feel a knee jerk reaction against displaying a black Santa Claus, and try to start a historical argument about the origins of Santa, maybe we have to ask ourselves why we are hanging on so tightly to that.

Pretty bottles of Coca Cola emblazoned a particular image of Santa Claus on the national psyche, but our evolution and racial revolution can allow us to enjoy a black Santa too. We can have every color Santa or Christmas angel in our homes this year. While we’re at it, let’s light a Menorah, and celebrate Kwanzaa too. Why not? There’s beauty and fun in all of it.

Let’s celebrate diversity and love this year, and pray for peace and justice for all.

As we finished our chat, my incredibly musically gifted eight-year-old Arabella and I took a stab at re-writing White Christmas.

I’m dreaming of a real Christmas
black brown and white.

I’m dreaming of a Real Christmas
Unlike the ones I used to know
Where the tree tops glisten
for all kids beneath ‘em
true colors of a loving world

I’m dreaming of a real Christmas
Where every Christmas card in sight
shows us all so merry and right
so may all our Christmases be bright

I’m dreaming of a real Christmas
unlike the ones I used to know
where all people listen
to children’s sweet heart beats
beneath our skin so very thin.

I’m dreaming of a real Christmas
with every person in the light
may we all be equal with might
and may all our Christmases
yes may all our Christmases
may all our Christmases be right

I’m dreaming of a real
black brown and white.

This story first appeared at The Good Men Project. More from our partner:
A Dad of a Daughter Sounds Off: We Need to Ditch the Term “Diva”
Rethinking Your Hatred of the Elf on the Shelf: Christmas Has a Long Tradition of Being a Little Creepy
What No One Teaches Us About Love

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