“I never believed in Santa because I knew no white dude would come into my neighborhood after dark.” – Dick Gregory
“Jesus was a white man too… as is Santa, I just want the kids watching to know that…” – Megyn Kelly, Fox News Dec 12, 2013
The Color of Santa Claus
by Kendall F. Person
Saint Nicholas was a legend in his day. Loved and admired for his generosity as he gave away his wealth, traveling the countryside, uplifting the poor and sick. It is believed, that in his kindness, he saved three sisters from being sold into slavery. He hailed from Turkey, an elaborate, fiercely independent nation, that literally connects the Middle East to Europe. They identify by ethnicity or religion, not by color of skin.
The American depiction of Saint Nicholas as a jolly old man, was the imagination of the creator of the modern Santa Claus, whose marketing prowess, ushered in the ‘shopping mall Christmas’ Americans celebrate till this day. St. Nick made his grand appearance into the lives of children via advertisements in 1841, a time when Black Americans were slaves. So there was no reason to imagine him any color but White. But that is a point, I wish did not need making. The real life legend, as well as the animated figure were about delivering peace on earth. But somehow, when it comes to race, we have a knack to turn the beautiful, ugly.
The firing of Megan Kelly by NBC was inevitable, and the black face overblown debacle, was simply the straw.
1969, twas the night before Christmas and my mother was pregnant with twins, who were – for context – born only seven days later on New Year’s Eve. I was only three years old, and while I do not remember most of the details, I do remember wondering “Mom. Where are you going?” She and my stepfather, briefly owned a cleaning company. From what I understand, things were kind of tight that year, so they contracted with an adult movie theatre to clean the dirty place up; make it look clean again. But they decided to wait until it closed, which was in the wee hours of the morning.
I grew up the middle child and the 2nd son, but I was never invisible, the way middle children were often portrayed, like Jan Brady. Nor was I the understudy to my older brother, like Peter Brady, Jan’s brother. I had two younger brothers and one younger sister, so I was the oldest of them and since my Mother worked two jobs more often than one, and my older sister had a different life, and the eldest son, pushed against the rules, I became the helper, a role traditionally assigned or assumed by the oldest one. But I did not mind.
No idea the cause or the reason, but it would not matter anyway (may He be resting in peace) but on December 24, 1969 my stepfather abandoned their contract, and on her work ethic alone, it was not an option my mother would have ever considered, but that is not why she completed the contract. At some odd hour of the morning, in the dead of winter in the Rocky Mountains nine months pregnant, with small children at home, she picked up my Grandmother and they scrubbed the filthy floors, while triple XXX movies played on, and scattered moans emitted from the sparse crowd, so she could earn extra money, because she wanted her kids to believe in Santa Claus. But at three years old, on Christmas Day, when my mother ran in well past dawn, but before noon I assume, with gifts for all, and still happily adoring the credit on the old dude
But I knew that Santa was my Mom, and all the parents were Santa to their kids too, which makes the color of Santa, the color of love.
this is… The Neighborhood
According to the History Channel’s website: The Legend of St. Nicholas