EDITORIAL: Maybe it’s time for black Christmas
Megyn Kelly’s comments were shortsighted in terms of race
New controversy surrounding Santa Claus has been circulating just in time for Christmas. A Slate culture writer, Aisha Harris, wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece about how the image of Santa should be depicted as a penguin, so as to avoid the alienation of certain races from the original image of a white Santa. Her piece held an important message about representation and identity.
FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly brought up Harris’s article on her show and discussed it amongst a panel of debaters. She started her conversation with “For the kids watching at home, Santa just is white.” Harris responded again stating that Kelly’s response was the very reason she wrote the piece in the first place. This back and forth lead up to Kelly receiving many negative responses to her comments and addressing them on her show with political analyst Zerlina Maxwell and Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church.
Kelly was able to somewhat justify her comments. In her defense, Kelly explained that she was talking about the representation of Santa and how, in every depiction she’s ever seen, Santa has been white. This is undeniable, as this was what Harris was originally voicing her dismay over. But although there may be no falsity to her statement, the conversation she had afterwards with Bishop Jackson is a cause for concern.
Kelly first questioned why the call for a black Santa and the notion that not having one was “alienating” was not racist itself. Jackson, in reply to the negative response to Kelly, offered that the younger generations should “build a bridge and get over it.” He also pointed out that as a nation, we will never be able to “get passed the race problem” because all people do is “stereotypical shadow boxing.”
There are a lot of underlying problems here.
While Kelly may have been right about the depiction of Santa Claus always being representative of a white man, she should understand that black people wanting to have a black Santa is not a “laughable” topic, and there is nothing racist in this. It is not the image of a white Santa that makes people of other races feel alienated, there is no underlying hate or discomfort in white skin. The issue of the matter, the one that Harris was trying to relay in the first place, was that Santa has only been shown as a white man in mainstream media. The call for a representation that accommodates to every person’s race is nothing that is problematic or confusing. Research has been conducted time and time again to show that the mass representation of only a specific race leads to self-esteem issues within other races. There is nothing wrong with wanting to see someone famous look like you.
Jackson seems to think that this is ignoring the larger problems that are at play with race and that the focus on “small” issues such as this is the reason that we cannot overcome race issues. He also spoke to the “400-year-old problem with slavery” that’s “never fully been settled.”
What Jackson, as well as many Americans fail to realize, is that issues with race, gender, sexuality, whatever have you, are not always matters of the “big issues.” Oftentimes the “little” issues that people cast aside are the very notions that the larger issues of race build upon. These “smaller” issues are like the foundation to the problems of race within the country. You can be a champion for the large-scale issues while still focusing heavily upon the problems that may not seem as important. This is not why there is a race issue in America. There is a race issue in America because people have an issue with race, and focusing on gaining equality in all aspects of life will not do anything to eradicate possibilities of progress within this nation.
And so, Megyn Kelly, although you were right in saying that Santa “just is white,” that does not mean we should not try to make him anything else.
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