Journalism

Dec 16, 2013

White Christmas: the US racial politics of Santa Claus

Some in America dream of a black Christmas, but the notion Santa is anything other than Anglo-Saxon offends the humourless at Fox News. Journalist Hari Raj reports from the US on the latest race controversy.

Poor Fox News. It isn’t easy being the sole bastion of sanity in the cluttered United States media landscape. It’s even harder at the end of the year, at a time when togetherness and tradition are threatened by no less than a War on Christmas. And then some liberal writer proposes that Santa Claus should be replaced. By a penguin. To catch you up, last week Slate blogger Aisha Harris penned a missive questioning the prevalence of a "melanin-deficient" Santa. For all that it has tongue very firmly planted in cheek, Harris’ piece does an excellent job of walking us through the confusion of a child who was brought up with two versions of Santa -- one darker, like her, but limited to the confines of her household, while the other, pinker version was everywhere else. Substituting Santa with a penguin is patently ridiculous, but the suggestion is enough to make you stop and think about the status quo, and wonder if it always must be so. Food for thought for some; indigestion for Fox News ...

"And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white," asserts host Megyn Kelly. To be fair, the panellists do discuss the heft of Harris’ piece, and Bernard Whitman makes very reasonable points right at the end before Kelly cuts him off. But then it all gets bogged down in a discussion about penguins instead of, you know, an examination of the racial normalisation of an internationally beloved holiday icon. "Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn't mean it has to change," Kelly says. "Jesus was a white man too. He was a historical figure -- that’s a verifiable fact. As is Santa. I just want the kids watching to know that." The clip has become less of a handy target for vitriol and pitchforks and more a catalyst for general amazement and amusement. There’s also a reliably acerbic Jon Stewart takedown, which starts out by savouring the deliciousness of a Fox News pundit saying "you can’t take facts and change them to fit some sort of a political agenda, or a sensitivity agenda" and ends with a great segment by Jessica Williams, one of the best recent additions to The Daily Show ...

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4 comments

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4 thoughts on “White Christmas: the US racial politics of Santa Claus

  1. klewso

    Yeah “poor as micturate”?

  2. AR

    WTF?! Kelly says. “Jesus was a white man too. He was a historical figure — that’s a verifiable fact. As is Santa. The mystery is not so much where does Fux find some such cretins but “WHY?”.
    Presumably JC was also blonde & blue eyed and spoke amerikan with a southern drawl?

  3. klewso

    Apostles – spreading “The Gospel of St Rupert”.

  4. Itsarort

    Hmm, Santa’s not real and neither is Jesus… So, just tell the kids the truth. Altruism is a powerful and successful evolutionary asset for many species, not just human.

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