Santa is black…and white, and maybe Chinese

This is the time of year that we start making plans for holiday decorating, photos, and what goes on the Christmas lists. A week from today will be a busy one-we’re picking up the tree (trucked into the city by a nearby treee farm), and getting LB’s Santa photo taken.

She doesn’t really believe in the big guy any more; about two years ago shortly after she turned six,  she asked if I was really Santa, and that was that. But, she’s not so grown that she doesn’t want to get the annual photo taken, and we don’t mind adding to the collection.

Some of the stores and organizations around here have special photo days  or hours where the Santa isn’t the typical fat, old white guy, but is black, or Asian, or Hispanic.  There are probably some even more Santas; Seattle is home to dozens of ethnic groups.

We’ve always tried to fit a black Santa into our schedules, and last year found a sorority that sponsors free digital black Santa photos. Since the young women taking the photos were from the digital age, they did an awesome job of taking a great shot-better than some of the very pricy ones we got at the “Big Department Store over the  years. So we’re returning to their site again.

Growing up, it never occurred to me that Santa was anyone but the jolly old guy I saw on every card, display, television special and even a couple of ornaments. He was this benevolent white guy with a fleet of white mini-me’s that had pointy ears who happily worked all day and night making toys, except for that one who wanted to be a dentist. I always thought he had a screw loose. What kind of person WANTS to mess  around with nasty teeth??

But LB always figured Santa looked like her, just as I’m guessing some Asian and Hispanic kids figure their Santas look like THEM. It makes perfect sense. And I’m glad some of the stores around Seattle recognize that.

Like I said, LB isn’t quite ready to give up the charade, and the other day was speculating about where the black Santa resides. “The white Santa lives in the North Pole, right? So the black Santa must live…on the SOUTH Pole! With the penguins!”

Who knows, maybe the black Santa uses penguins to pull the sleigh. If reindeer can fly…


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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This makes me think of the Cosby Show episode when Dr. Huxtable explains to Olivia that Santa changes in each family’s home. If the family is Japanese, Santa turns Japanese, if the family is Black, he becomes Black.

    i am also reminded of a tiny book of short writings by David Sedaris called Holdidays On Ice, in which he writes of his experience as an elf at a big New York department store and how some customers felt insulted by there being a Black santa, and how he noticed that most of the Black families went to the White santa instead.

    Your daughter seems to have a strong sense of self. That is so awesome. And it’s inspiring to see how you encourage that in her. Way to go, Mom!

  2. Wonderful post! To me, this illustrates that Santa can be anything – to anybody. Although, I admit that I’ve never thought about it this way, thank you – for opening my eyes a little more.

  3. Hi,
    I’ve been looking for a black santa in the Seattle area, but haven’t had luck looking online. Would you mind sharing the name and location of the sorority that is sponsoring this santa?

  4. I came by your site by accident, but I am loving what I am reading so far. My niece and nephew are biracial, and I love how you have named your child latte bebe. I have been searching this site for the last 3 weeks for any sort of black santa wrapping paper to balance out the white santa wrapping paper. I look forward to reading more of your blog, and happy new year.

  5. I was searching for “biracial Christmas” and came across your site. It’s a great site, and I greatly enjoyed reading your posts. I am Italian-American and my boyfriend is Black Haitian-African American. We are very serious, and just spent this Christmas meeting each other’s family. When we got back to Miami, I wanted to take advantage of the after Christmas markdowns. My dilemma: what color angels and santa to buy??? Although we do not have any children, we do hope to get married, have children and the white picket fence, etc… some day soon. I consulted my boyfriend, and then opted for the Latin Angel Tree Topper–brown skin, curly hair, most accurately depicted a biracial female. The situation made me laugh. It’s just not something I would have thought about growing up. But, I do remember decorating the tree as a little girl and admiring the blonde angel tree topper before handing if over to my dark olive complexion Italian grandmother. Every year I would think of how beautiful it was, and how it looked nothing like anyone in my family. I want our children to be able to admire our tree for years to come, to think of how beautiful the angel is, and to think how it resembles them. We are very fortunate to live in Miami–a city where every ethnicity and race is represented, even commercially at Christmas time.

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