Fox News host Megyn Kelly created a stir by making a racial statement about one of the most sacred American icons: Santa Claus. Kelly was upset by Slate writer Aisha Harris' call to end the portrayal of Santa Claus as a jolly, bearded, white man. In her discussion, Kelly made the comment that "By the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white."
In her essay on Slate Harris writes that in her childhood home the images featured a Black Santa, in contrast to all the pink-cheeked fellows at the mall and in movies and such:
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.
Kelly's statement created a big stir. Some folks, like BlogHer CatB478, agree that Santa Claus is inherently a white man:
Families can introduce different colored Santas to their children, but the fact remains, Santa was originally white. History can’t be rewritten. While it’s racially soothing to make Santa different shades of brown to represent present day America and the blending of cultures, the Santa most adults all knew and loved was white. A white that wasn’t discriminatory. Why should we impose racial equality on a cherubic white man who loved all children just the same, regardless of race?
Jamie Lynn Grumet of I Am Not the Babysitter writes that the whole image of Santa Claus is folklore anyway:
In our home, Christmas is a time to celebrate and observe the birth of Christ (even if it was placed on this date to compliment or overshadow various pagan holidays during this time of year). For us, we have found that too much Santa has the potential to easily overshadow the real celebration.
So, Santa in our house is essentially like Frosty the Snowman. He is clearly not real; he’s a fun tradition. However, honoring the Santa tradition in some way helps us bring up the story of the real Santa Claus – Saint Nicholas.
Fox News host Megyn Kelly stands by her comments, although she now calls it "tongue in cheek" message.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports that people drive from all over Southern California to visit a black Santa at a South L.A. shopping mall.
In parting, I'd like to offer this tidbit from a 1897 New York Sun editorial that we most commonly know as the "Yes, Virginia" letter:
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to our life its highest beauty and joy."
Dec. 13, 2013 - Tampa, Florida, U.S. - EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times.L-R: Jacques Williams, 8, turns after meeting Santa Claus at the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant & Research in Ybor City on Friday, December 13, 2013 in Tampa. (Credit Image: © Edmund D. Fountain/Tampa Bay Times/ZUMAPRESS.com)
What do you think? Should Santa Claus be a certain race? Or do you even celebrate Santa?
News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs about raising an Asian mixed-race family at HapaMama.
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