Representation Matters…or Black Santa

Black Santa

A few days ago we were driving through my dream neighborhood. A diverse suburb right outside of Philadelphia. I won’t mention the name but just know, it’s on the vision board and written down plain, so you know it’s real. Anyway, we we driving through admiring the Christmas decorations when we noticed one of those big blown up Santa’s on a lawn. Pretty standard decoration right? Except, this Santa was black.

That caused me and the hubs to get hype. I mean, have YOU ever saw a gigantic black Santa just chillin on someone’s lawn? We sure hadn’t. So, hubs yells out “there’s a black Santa!” and we smile, cheer a bit, and keep it moving. That is, until our middle son asks something along the lines of “what’s the big deal”–that’s not the teaching moment here, it’s coming–and our oldest says:

Because all of the other Santa’s are normal. 

Hubs always says that I’m the parent who will catch a comment before it slips away like “ah ah not so fast, let’s talk about that.” And it’s true. Our society has allowed us to normalize so many things that, aren’t exactly normal, and I’m the mom who will quickly gather the children together for a teaching moment when those things arise. Read that as, daily.

What makes a Santa normal?

That’s what I asked our boy. It was quiet. I let the question marinate because, I don’t even think he really noticed what he said, before I asked my question. We were excited to see a black Santa, because it’s not something we see often. And because it’s not something we see often, our son had translated that as “not normal”. Now, okay you could say I’m being a tad overdramatic–it’s always 50/50 chance I’m being as such–but this wasn’t one of those moments. Normal, doesn’t equal white. And whether that’s what he was trying to say or not, it’s those subconscious thoughts, that I absolutely will not let fly around these parts.

I asked him again after a few moments silence. What makes a Santa normal?

It was like you could hear the realization coming to life in his mind. Quietly, he answered…”you know, I guess both Santa’s are normal.” I left it at that. Remember, I’m his mama, I know I had gotten through. Enough said.

Couple days later, I walk past the stockings we had hung on the railing a couple weeks ago. I purchase new stockings for the boys every year, the kind that they can color in and we always let them decorate the night we put up the Christmas tree. My oldest son had chosen a Santa stocking to color. A couple days ago, the Santa was white. He was…what was it he said again? Oh yea, he was “normal”.  At some point between our conversation and the moment I walked by, my son had colored the Santa black.

I know, I know. What’s the big deal right? Well, it’s actually a huge deal. Representation matters. Even when it comes to fictional characters. IT MATTERS. When our kids don’t see themselves, they form ideas about who are what they are. What they can become. They also don’t really question it, you know? It’s limiting. But when you show them, that black people are normal and can be anything, even Santa, it inspires hope. And it lets them know they matter.

‘Tis the season. ~xoxo

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