by Jennifer McKnight
For many African American families, it isn’t odd to see a Santa that looks a little different than usual. These are typically the same households that paintings of a darker skinned Jesus above the dining room table. The idea of a Black Santa is something that has become increasingly popular in the Black tradition the past few generations.
Does it Matter?
There have been multiple studies that have suggested that children suffer when they do not see people that look like them. Although this theory was tested and used in the 1930s as justification for segregation, it did not reemerge until the Black Power movement of the 1970s. So for years, young children believed that a large white man would provide them with gifts if they trusted him and asked.
No Different than the Easter Bunny
Some people would argue that making a big deal about the skin color of Santa Claus is about as silly as deciding whether or not the Easter bunny is white or pink. On the surface, this may be true, but for many African Americans, the fact that Santa Claus is a person makes it easier for children to associate him with a real person. Some adults simply do not want their children to blindly trust someone that does not look like them.
Call it Paranoid?
For many people today, it may seem silly to worry about Santa’s skin color. It seems like something black people did during the Civil Rights era. Well, if you think the idea of a Black Santa died with the seventies, think again. In cities such as Detroit, residents demand dark-skinned Santa’s in their local shopping centers. Parents say the Black Santa is important to their children’s self-esteem.
Santa in Pop Culture
When African Americans became more prominent in entertainment, alternative images of Santa began to emerge. From Run DMC’s classic, Christmas in Hollis to Snoop Dogg rapping about Santa coming to the ghetto. The African American community ids beginning to challenge the stereotypical images of Santa wherever they can.
What Color is Your Santa?
No matter where you stand on this topic, if you have kids you are likely going to see a few men dressed like Santa Claus. The question is, will you skip the white Santa for the Black Santa. For many black parents this is a very real consideration to make. It’s no surprise many African American families choose to go without Santa completely.