It’s been weeks since Fox News host Megyn Kelly declared to children that Kris Kringle is a white man, unlike the man of color a columnist envisioned decades ago, mainly due to a conflicted moment in her childhood. However, while the Christmas holiday season is in full gear, Crooks and Liars felt that a reprisal was in order about Kelly’s on-air insistence that Santa Claus is Caucasian, not black.
Slate staff writer Aisha Harris wrote an opinion piece about the holiday from a retrospective perspective, intermingled with a bit of tongue in cheek. Twenty years ago, Harris, an African American, faced a time of confusion about old Saint Nicholas. Megyn Kelly claimed the writer was suggesting that history had it wrong, and the omnipresent cherub himself was black. A growing contingent of readers disagreed with Kelly’s assertion.
On the one hand, the fabled jolly man who appears mysteriously in the night and leaves bounties of toys is white, in terms of the traditional rendering. On the other hand, as a child of color, Harris’ loved ones paid homage to a black Santa Claus. Yes, to the future journalist, her Kris Kringle was not a man with pale skin and rosy cheeks.
Years later, Harris points out that the consensus view, despite the growing minority-majority landscape in America, still holds that Claus is white. She pushes for an all-inclusive representation of Christmas. Her solution: make old St. Nick — wait for it — a penguin.
“Two decades later, America is less and less white, but a melanin-deficient Santa remains the default in commercials, mall casting calls, and movies. Isn’t it time that our image of Santa better serve all the children he delights each Christmas?
“Yes, it is. And so I propose that America abandon Santa-as-fat-old-white-man and create a new symbol of Christmas cheer. From here on out, Santa Claus should be a penguin.
“That’s right: a penguin.”
Megyn Kelly led a panel of guests on the issues Harris raised, and attempted to educate kids all over the world about the “facts” about Santa. Arguably, it didn’t go over well.
“For all you kids watching at home, Santa just are white. But this person is just arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa. But Santa is what he is.
“Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change, you know? I mean, Jesus was a white man too. He was a historical figure, that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa — I just want the kids watching to know that.”
Joining the legion of others who took stabs at the conservative and provocative news anchor, MSNBC host Melissa Harry Perry weighed in on Kelly’s admitted “lighthearted” attempt at comedy. To her, the Santa Claus flap is one reason why the country is so divided over race.
In her weekly “Open Letter” — which touches on a number of proactive issues that are trending at the moment — Perry, instead of squaring off directly with Megyn Kelly on her assertion that Kris Kringle is white, wrote a letter to the Santa’s home in the North Pole.
“Dear Santa,” Harris begins, explaining to Claus that her letter is less of an attempt to change his gift-giving criteria, than it is for him to assist in the polarized debate over his ethnicity.
“Are you white? Are you black? When you’re coming from the North Pole, do you have a legal visa or are you undocumented?
“Can you find a kid if he lives in an apartment building and not a house with a chimney? Can you find her in a homeless shelter? Why do you leave so many more toys under the big trees in the wealthy neighborhood and so few in the poorer communities?”
There’s more to the debate, but Harris, along with others, are using their celebrity as a platform to shed some light on the controversy created by Kelly’s bland statement about Santa Claus’ skin color. Harris concluded with a poignant statement.
“If we can’t imagine Santa across the racial divide, no wonder we have trouble creating an America without a racial divide.”
Do you agree with Megyn Kelly’s statement to kids that Santa is white? Does a news outlet have any social responsibility, or even a right, to inject itself into salient matters that pertain to a collective consciousness? Where is the line drawn, if any?