ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — In Atlanta, children of many races share their Christmas wish lists with a black Santa Claus. In Houston, Santa dons a red zoot suit and dances to jazz as he hands out gifts in Mexican-American neighborhoods. In Indian Country, Native American Santas add American Indian attire to their red snowsuits, visiting shops and community centers from the pueblos of New Mexico to the reservations on the Pacific Northwest. Santa Claus may be popularly known as a white-bearded benefactor with Dutch-English origins, but multiethnic versions of Santa are making the rounds out there too — illustrating that in an increasingly diverse United States, Santa takes on whatever color you imagine him to be.
If you’re a child, Christmas can be a wonderful time. You get to spend weeks anticipating what Santa Claus brought you, and then there’s the joy and release of Christmas morning, when the Big Reveal comes and the gifts are unwrapped. In the Internet Age, it’s more difficult for parents to maintain the myth of Santa Claus, but for those who do and the children who still believe, the one issue no one cares about is Santa’s race. Kids care about what Santa stands for and the joy (and presents) he brings. Parents care about allowing their children to be children as long as possible. The time will come when the world will repeatedly be proven to be an often cold and cruel place, but believing in Santa means believing in goodness and simplicity. Sometimes I wish I still believed in Santa, because when I did I loved Christmas with a passion and fervor only a child could muster. I had nothing else to concern myself with and no worries about…well, anything. There are times when I miss those days.
Santa Claus can be, and is, many things to many children. He assumes many forms…and yes, colors. The concept of Santa Claus is about as race-free as anything in this world…unless you’re Megyn Kelly or one of the other joyless drudges at Fox News Channel. For reasons known only to herself, Kelly decided to make the celebration of Christmas as divisive and partisan as any other issue in the adult world. Kelly expounded at some ridiculous length about her belief that Santa’s white- “And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white….” Of course, why WOULDN’T Santa look like us, right? He’s a fictional character, so why shouldn’t we be able to imbue him with characteristics that make us feel comfortable? Therefore, Santa Claus is White because…well, he just is, OK?
Kelly’s argument is absurd, of course, especially when you consider that Fox News Channel is also pushing to keep the “Christ” in “Christmas”…as if that’s a real issue. Kelly has led the charge to keep the focus on the birth of Jesus Christ as the reason for the season…and then she goes and makes the ridiculous unsupportable claim that Santa Claus is White.
“He just is….”
If Kelly had bothered to look outside her hermetically-sealed hyper-Conservative White world, she’d bump up against the reality that Santa Claus is SO much more than just a fat, jolly White Guy in an ill-fitting red suit. (I’ll leave for another time the absurdity- and hypocrisy- of Kelly, an allegedly committed Christian, claiming ownership of the face of a pagan concept.)
Santa’s dress, skin color, and customs vary widely depending on culture, region, and nationality. To claim with no hint of irony that Santa is ipso facto a White guy is to claim ignorance of the rich history and tradition surrounding the idea of Santa Claus, a Christmas tradition known around the world for the different forms and traditions he assumes. In some places Santa Claus, in others Father Christmas and even Pancho Claus, among other iterations, the man we call “Santa” is revered by children for being the bearer of Christmas gifts. Kids know that all Santa really cares about is whether they’ve been “naughty” or “nice.” He represents joy and happiness and a reason for kids to behave and listen to their parents.
The point is that you have to be a pretty sorry excuse for a human being to seriously believe and argue that Santa is White (“He just is”) and then to claim that it was done in jest and we’re just looking for an excuse to attack both her and Fox News Channel. Santa Claus may be White to you, but to the world outside your monochromatic bubble, he takes on many different forms, colors, and customs. No one can claim ownership of Santa Claus…except perhaps the children, who- lest we forget- is really who this paganized representative of Christmas is all about.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to help Pancho Claus deliver piñatas to children in rural Mexico. Hey, somebody’s got to drive the sleigh….