Santa Claus is comin’ to Frown
Written by: J. Stokes – December 6, 2016
The year 2016 has been filled with many hardships, ranging from controversial police shootings to acts of terrorism on U.S soil. It doesn’t help that iconic musicians like Prince and Maurice White of Earth, Wind, and Fire as well as various other well-known celebrities have passed away throughout the year. After all of these occurrences, one would assume that the December holiday season could lift the spirits of those impacted most heavily. Despite an annual resurgence of gift giving mayhem, the holidays are supposed to be a time of peace, joy, and harmony. That is, after all, what the infamous Santa Claus stands for, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, America has proved that even the holidays couldn’t escape this trying year. The latest controversy comes from Mall of America’s appointment of a Black Santa Claus. Seems jolly ol’ Saint Nick couldn’t do the trick (ya’ caught that?). Mall of America, one of the top tourist destinations found in Minnesota, has had a national reputation for entertaining guests through its hosting of events, providing a diverse collection of retail shops and restaurants, and allowing tourists to greet some of their favorite celebrities. So then, why should hiring a Black Santa, otherwise known as Santa Larry, be such a big deal? Don’t people have other things to focus on while at a mall of all places?
As we’ve stated before in an earlier post, some have argued that racism is a phenomenon germane to American culture.
If racism wasn’t the case for this Santa Claus backlash then why should having a Black Santa be such an issue, or even a topic of conversation? One could possibly bring up the historical representation of Santa Claus in the U.S. and argue that he has always been a White man. Such assertions have been made by American journalist Megyn Kelly, for example. While these claims may hold some truth, one must be reminded that America has had a history of whitewashing historical figures in Hollywood. An example comes from the movie “Gods of Egypt,” which was actually released this year. Seeing that Egypt is located in Africa, many felt that the choice to make White actors such as Gerard Butler the movie’s main characters was an inaccurate portrayal of people who inhabit that area of the world. Alex Proyas, director of the movie, even released a statement apologizing for the casting choices made. We’ve also mentioned in another post that Hollywood tends to replace lead Asian roles with White actors and actresses. The most recent occurrence came in the form of Scarlett Johansson being casted as Major Motoko Kusanagi in the 2017 live action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell.
Despite the abovementioned examples, there may be some of you out there that are still not convinced that the outcry over having a Black Santa in Mall of America is connected to racism. If that is the case, let’s consider the following. Several sources have claimed that the U.S. is becoming more diverse in many areas, race just being one of them. Given this change, wouldn’t it be more appropriate for people to develop new, diverse interpretations of mythical figures?
Santa Claus is legendary and supposedly based off of historical figures. However, he is not real (sorry kids). Therefore, a new look on the guy shouldn’t be such a big deal. We now live in an era where comic books are beginning to represent the U.S. more accurately. Marvel comics, for example, has made Captain America Black, given the Thor title to a woman, and created a new Spider-Man who has Hispanic heritage. So why can’t Santa Claus be Black? Hollywood continues to make fantasy-filled movies where White characters dominate historically non-White areas. So why can’t Santa Claus be Black? Now are you beginning to see the racist undertones behind the Mall of America controversy?
Though Santa Larry has faced some opposition, it should be noted that the majority of those who have been in his presence give positive reviews. There may be some hope left for this country after all… Nevertheless, we give you this explanation of how it is somewhat ignorant to vilify a Black Santa Claus to avoid future outbursts. If Charlie Brown somehow becomes a Native American girl, will you be disgruntled? If the television sitcom “Friends” is suddenly rebooted and instead centers on a group of Taiwanese individuals, will you throw a fit? Ultimately, we must realize that the U.S. is changing. It’s time we begin changing our mindsets. And lastly, for those of you who believe that the December holiday season is a time for peace, joy, and harmony, take a listen to this message by a rapper who goes by Bodie via the following links:
**What did you think of this week’s post? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below!