12.09.2006

In Search of Black Santa

Writer Vincent Williams recalls his family's annual pilgrammage to find a brother from the North Pole:
From the Baltimore City Paper –

This will be my daughter’s first Christmas. Obviously, it doesn’t mean that much to her, her being less than a year old and all. I’m sure in her eyes it’ll be yet another day in the endless adventure that is Hey, I Should Put That in My Mouth. But for Mom and me it’s huge. We have presents to buy, cookies to bake, a tree to decorate, and a Nativity scene to set up with real hay for a little porcelain Jesus. We have to replace the stockings with our names on them with ones that say mommy and daddy. I have to teach my daughter the Cold Miser and Heat Miser songs and James Brown’s “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto” and, oh, the pictures we have to take.

It’s the pictures that are going to be a little tricky. Our daughter is the first grandchild on my side of the family and the first in more than a decade on my wife’s side, so all eyes are on the inevitable Christmas picture. And in the moment when I finally became my parents, I realized that getting the perfect holiday picture means I have to find a black Santa Claus.

When people talk about “Black Nationalism” or “Black Pride,” the terms evoke images of Black Panthers in black leather jackets or Angela Davis raising a defiant Black Power fist. But I’ve found that cultural pride is more about the day to day. Black Barbies, pictures of relatives, and that ubiquitous bright orange The Best of Earth, Wind, and Fire Vol. I album had more of an impact on post-integration African-American youth than Soul on Ice. No disrespect to Eldridge Cleaver, but I was 18 when I was exposed to him, and I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know the words to “September.”

I know for a fact that my parents never marched, sat-in, or protested, but they are some of the proudest and most quietly pro-black people I’ve ever met. Hell, I’ve been “acting like I come from something” since before I even knew what it was that I came from or what it meant. And they certainly weren’t going to let their children sit in some white Santa’s lap when it was time to take the Christmas picture. So for years there was an annual search for a venue with a black Santa Claus.

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5 comments:

Keith said...

Great post. Coincidentally, today I was kind of laughing at the "New Black Panther Party" that was being featured on a local ABC show. I did not laugh because I thought they were a joke, the protest was necessary, but more because I thought that the chant of "black power" seemed dated. Black power is in action and deed, not a raised black fist and an all black uniform (yes they still wear the black leather). Plus things that they suggested black people in NYC do, like boycotting the so-called newspaper "The New York Post," is stuff that I have long since done on my own and on purpose. I just put the show "20/20" on my personal boycot list because a reporter referred to Nigeria this past Friday in a racist and offensive way (he called the whole darn country a "disgrace"). My son has never, and will never, take a picure on white Santa's lap. Not because I have anything against him, but because I have pride. Power to the parents!

Christopher Chambers said...

For me, this is one of those "pick your battles" moments. There are a million more issues to draw the line in the sand on. This isn't one of them, in my opinion. I do not, however, want to minimize it for others, so hopefully I didn't offend anyone.My kid can sit on white Santa's lap...no biggie.

The Resident Alien said...

We shouldn't underestimate those things that youthful souls need clarity on like the Santa thing (a capitalist marketing mechanism for people to spend money) as well as the perpetuating the illusion of a jolly old European that does not exist in the real world.

Parents force this alien thinking onto their children and fail to teach them lasting and much needed lessons of history and self-determination. People then become Black (skinned) White European Americans.

Even the so-called "black" Santa Claus is just a parody that enforces inferiority to those who partake in it as we become a people who copy the traditions of others rather than invent our own originality and reclaim our own ancient and first-in-the-world cultural perspectives on what is a celebration of the change of seasons.

The battles we have to fight against isn't an EITHER/OR battle.. it fought on many fronts. Some fight it with Kwanzaa in hope to transform our values back to our ancestors... others fight it by teaching us of the root mythology of Santa (which is SATAN=SANTA (uses the same words, both wear red), others like the New Black Pather Party fight in public and openly in spite of some who think that the call to marshall our African warrior spirit in the name of "Black Power" is passe in the age of NSA Wiretaps, New COININTEL PRO, and Worldwide War against non-whites including the war against the Black underclass in the United States.

Some just fight it by not allowing their children to sit on the lap of a minimum wage earning white guy dressed up in a costume better fit for Halloween, another European yet alien to African tradition.

I would finally suggest that when we do this en mass (reject The Santa Industry) then those who watch us for signs of Mass Awareness and Self-Empowerment would begin to be more afraid. If we look at all of the wars on Earth, many of them are fueled by the former enslaved rejecting the icons and idols and culture of the former enslavers.

plez... said...

"the resident alien" brings up some very good points, but I'm going to have to side with Chris Chambers on this one... plus geographically speaking, when talking to a 5 year old, it's a lot easier to explain how a Nordic white dude dressed in red pajamas comes down from the North Pole once a year than to explain how a Black guy got up there.

And when we are in the malls, my wife and I just tell my daughter that all of those jolly guys in the red suits are Santa's helpers; the real one only comes out on Christmas Eve.

Mrs. J said...

That's funny, my mom used to tell me the same thing!LOL