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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