The Santa Claus Bag

December 12, 2010

 

When I was very small my mother transformed all our Caucasian Christmas figurines to African Americans.  The Santa right down to the elves.  I did not witness her doing it but I could tell she’d painted them.  And the thing was my mom was no Black Panther.  She was not the rebellious kind by any stretch of the imagination.  But something about her very young child looking at all these representations of joy and none of them appearing to look like her daughter bothered my mother.

Now that I have a child, I know what she felt.  Is it alright to have children of color looking to the Caucasian Santa as the source of all the goodness and excitement.  I say no. Especially since the real Santa Claus bag essentially belongs to me, and I don’t look anything like a fat, jolly white guy.  I am saying the source of the joy is really in my hands.

I think children need to experience the possibility that Santa can be from any group.  On a subconscious level it is dangerous to believe that only white stuff can be good stuff  and yet I still see so many people, young and old falling into that trap.  I plan to teach my child that Santa Claus looks like him when he enters our home, and he looks like others when he enters theirs. 

Why participate in the Santa thing at all if it has to be this complicated?  Why don’t we just do Kwanzaa instead?  Well I remember believing in Santa was great fun, and it is a chance to believe in magic which I think is good for the imaginations of little children.  But I want to  handle this consciously, in a way that is sensitive to self-esteem development.

And by the way, these days you don’t have to put your figurines into blackface (although I used some brown powdered foundation on one of my decorations and I think it turned our pretty good).  You can buy them already Black. There are several websites I found on line including: 

http://www.itsablackthang.com/AfricanAmericanChristmasDecorations-Black-Santa.html

I also love this post from a couple of years ago where a journalist interviewed several Black Santas:  http://weekendamerica.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/12/13/inside_blackness_black_santa/

Happy Holidays Everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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4 Responses to “The Santa Claus Bag”

  1. E said

    Brilliant. Many us do this but I’ve never heard the reasons why it matters explained so thoughtfully before.

  2. yoy50 said

    Hi there, lady (my kindred spirit)! Just wanted to pop in (now that I have my computer back) and say this is a very cool entry/article. You really do ROCK, lady!

    Now… for anyone who runs across this post in the future, I just want to say that she is not a Dr. on that superficial level– she’s real and bona fide– certified et al! I checked her out long ago. She also has this very cool and soothing voice and there’s never a judgmental tone from her along with her being very cute to boot!! If she offers insight– latch onto it! A cool sidebar; I’d personally like to see her with a radio show one of these days (hey– that’s just me). Again, Dr. Arrington– cool article so thanks for finding the time to post for those of us who enjoy your writings! With love and light– Jazz 😉

    P.S. It’s funny… I can’t find one thing to ask about this article. Again, dear lady– you ROCK in my opinion! You give hope to our little ones that will “come up” after us– you’re a living legacy. Yep, I said it!!! (BIG smiles & winks and hugs to each and all!)

  3. E said

    Just thought I’d mention that Hallmark is selling a black Santa Christmas tree ornament this year, along with it’s usual assortment of black angel ornaments and figurines.

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