Their coverage of the issue started one week ago today when Newsday ran a column by Aisha Harris, an African-American woman, in which she described the confusion she felt as a child seeing conflicting depictions of Santa Claus. At home and within the black community, Harris wrote, Santa was pictured for the most part as black. On TV, in the stores and at school, however, he was white.
I remember feeling slightly ashamed that our black Santa wasn't the "real thing." Because when you're a kid and you're inundated with the imagery of a pale seasonal visitor - and you notice that even some black families decorate their houses with white Santas - you're likely to accept the consensus view[.]Harris went on to suggest that perhaps we might consider recasting Santa as someone or something more universally accessible – a penguin perhaps? Is that even possible? "Of course," says Harris. "[S]ince we created Santa, we can certainly change him however we like, and we have. Many times over." Fair enough.
But the story took a sharp turn into the fast lane of crazy the following day when Fox TV personality Megyn Kelly got into the act. Kelly not only took issue with Harris's column, which, after all, was agnostic on the ultimate question of Santa's race, but boldly declared that no matter what else children may have been told, Santa Claus is white. Period. So, too, was Jesus. Exclamation Point! Here's the tape:
Leave it to Fox to eliminate all of those messy historical uncertainties from the picture. Don't let any of those pointy-headed liberal professor-types confuse you, Kelly decreed. Santa is white. He's always been white. Jesus, too. It's simple, or as Archie Bunker might say, "case closed." Well, to be factually accurate, there isn't all that much about either Santa or Jesus that's demonstrably clear from our vantage point. There are plenty of open questions, many of which may never be resolved. Santa, of course, is a mythical figure loosely based on St. Nicholas, a Christian bishop from an area that is now part of Turkey. Jesus was born a Galilean Jew. As a result, it's likely neither of these two men would appear to be white by contemporary standards. There is certainly no clear or simple answer to longstanding questions about their race.
As so often happens, it took Jon Stewart, anchorman for a comedy news program called The Daily Show, to bring this topic back down to Earth:
(Hey, what's with Gretchen Carlson? Is it me or does she look completely unhinged in the Daily Show video, above.) Count on us to keep you up to date on any significant new developments in this story. Until then, from where we're seated, PRESS HERE.
Read some Children's Letters to Megyn Kelly
Watch Megyn Kelly's Response to the "Santa is White" Controversy
Watch Jon Stewart's Response to Megyn Kelly's Response
Read "How to Explain Megyn Kelly's Fear of a Black Santa"
Check Out Comedy Central's "War on Christmas" Advent Calendar