Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Why Santa Claus is White

"I have always thought of Christmas Time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys."
                                                                                                   Charles Dickens

Wherever you are this holiday season, in whatever household, with whatever upbringing, there is a good chance that you have seen the current representation of Santa Claus: a jolly, older gentlemen that instilled the core values of charity and good will towards all people.  In this realization, his skin color is white and has been since the mass marketing of Christmas in the early 1820's.  While some debate the residual and implicit effects of a white Santa on minorities, a misguided talk-show host spouted something stupid.

 The controversy arose after Fox News host Megyn Kelley mentioned certain comments during a debate over an article suggesting that Santa should be a different race or an animal to discourage confusion amongst younger children of different origins. (see clip)

Mainstream media reacted, including many organizations and The Daily Show:

Megyn Kelly's response was even worse, completely ignoring the real reason their was outrage to begin with:

The reputability of Fox News aside,  there are a number of things that need some discussion.

1.) Santa Claus is not real. Really.
 The concept of Santa Claus is a marketing decision made in the early 1800's that coincided with the rise of department stores across the world . "Christmas Spending" was born in the mid 1800's,= and we've all hated ourselves ever since.  He's not a real person, he doesn't really deliver gifts, and is most certainly not Tim Allen.

  Yes, sorry to drop that on you this late in the game.

3.) If he's not real, he can be changed.
  Did you collect anything when you were little? Whether you were into video games, pokémon cards, pogs, yo-yo's, fanny packs (apparently this was a thing in NYC) or whatever,  you are contributing to the system that made Santa Claus.  All of these things change and evolve; they release a PS2, PS3 and PS4 to keep people interested and hooked on buying video games, (the core audience is now 30) all for the sake of capitalism.  Why would it not make sense for him to change as well? You hated getting last years fashions, so why are you so glued to the 200+ year old image of Santa?

4.)  He was actually middle-eastern.
  The original tale came from a legend of St. Nicholas who apparently was like an A.D. Chuck Norris doing great things and good charity to others.  The legend of him came from modern-day Turkey, meaning he would, like Jesus, have a more middle-eastern complexion.

5.) Changing his image would be a brilliant marketing scheme.
  I'll do this one for you, mainstream media.  Imagine a "league of Santa Clauses", much like the league of Green Lanterns, all representing different races and genders, orientations---whatever you wanted.  You could make Santa Claus as marketable as those Skylanders toys all my nieces and nephews want.  THINK OF THE MONEY, CONSERVATIVE AMERICA.

6.)  It has been done before.
    Albeit not in 200 years, but it has happened. When we needed him to evolve for whatever reason, he did. (Handy Infographic).  It can happen again, and will in my lifetime. I guarantee it.

7.) St Nicholas WAS white.
   If anything, St. Nicholas can be classified as white, if you even really want to say that.  Even though he was from the Middle East as mentioned before, the fictional consumerist image of Santa Claus we acknowledge only has white skin as a default crossover from St. Nicholas (and most likely much, much more deeper "white is better" privilege laden reasoning as time went on).  

8.) Santa Claus is not the real meaning of Xmas.
The important feelings of unity, charity, and overall goodwill won't go away if the skin color of Santa Claus changes.  If you are offended over the change of the orientation, color, or race of Santa, you're missing the bigger picture.  This season within a season is meant to deter the natural animalistic carnage of humans and to instead, instill goodwill towards people.

9.) Capitalism is killing Christmas.
See Black Friday shopping.   Of course, Black Friday wouldn't be as crazy if wage inequality was reduced, and consumers could actually pay for the products they work to afford.

10.) Merry Christmas.
Christmas as a holiday has transcended religions, it is no longer a purely catholic holiday. It is recognized by all religions and the nation as a national time to be together (or holiday).  Merry Christmas means the same as Happy Holidays: goodwill towards you and others.
 Things are going to change and we need to aware that as technology develops, we will be able to see more clearly how some are being oppressed and underserved.  It is our responsibility, as we openly accept and use newer technology, to acknowledge the problems and strive to fix them.

Why is Santa Claus only portrayed as white skinned? Because we haven't been taking this responsibility seriously, and its time that we do.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone.


Anonymous said...

So.. a la #7, is Santa Claus white or what?

Adam Schiffmacher said...

Santa Claus is based off of st Nicholas but is not him. The current representation is white, but could be any color.