Yes Megyn, Santa is sometimes black. Sometimes he's even in a wheelchair. Santa is any way you imagine him because he's magical that way. When I saw Saint Nick in a motorized wheelchair on the streets of Manhattan, I didn't question the utility of his ornate walking staff. I just believed. And he happily posed for me.
As for Black Santa, when we moved into our comfortable, suburban home our two young children were among a handful of black kids in the entire town. We became close friends with our neighbors, trudging through the snow every Christmas eve to exchange gifts. We marveled at the beautiful collection of intricately wood carved and brightly colored Santas adorning their mantle. White Santas lovingly crafted by the hands of our friends octogenarian father. He was a distinguished, white man from a bygone era with a neatly trimmed mustache and a quiet manner.
One year, my then wife asked if he could make us a black Santa, and this grandfather, who like most of us never imagined Santa any other way, began making us the most beautiful black Santas. Every year, he would happily construct for us a black Santa in jolly repose -- carrying his bag, smiling happily. They're now heirlooms.
My children were young then, but not the slightest bit confused by the imagery of the traditional Claus and our Black ones -- which all peacefully coexisted in our home.
The question of Santa and race, which most people never even knew was up for debate, was fueled by Fox News' Megyn Kelly responding to a mostly tongue-in-cheek blog by Slate's Aisha Harris. Harris, who's black, suggested the penguin might be a better, universal image to represent the happy gift giver than the time honored, homogenized version. Kelly responded by reassuring children that both Santa and Jesus are white. Period!
There's comfort in knowing my neighbors father had no less love for his black Santas than his white ones.
If someone of his generation could embrace that, then there's hope for ours.
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