Aisha Harris, writing at Salon Magazine, calls for Santa Claus to be made over into a penguin. Why? you ask.
When I was a kid, I knew two different Santa Clauses. The first had a fat belly, rosy cheeks, a long white beard, and skin as pink as bubble gum. He was omnipresent, visiting my pre-school and the local mall, visible in all of my favorite Christmas specials.
Then there was the Santa in my family’s household, in the form of ornaments, cards, and holiday figurines. A near-carbon copy of the first one—big belly, rosy cheeks, long white beard: check, check, check. But his skin was as dark as mine.
Seeing two different Santas was bewildering. Eventually I asked my father what Santa really looked like. Was he brown, like us? Or was he really a white guy?
... 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.
Why, you ask? For one thing, making Santa Claus an animal rather than an old white male could spare millions of nonwhite kids the insecurity and shame that I remember from childhood. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, Santa is one of the first iconic figures foisted upon you: He exists as an incredibly powerful image in the imaginations of children across the country (and beyond, of course). That this genial, jolly man can only be seen as white—and consequently, that a Santa of any other hue is merely a “joke” or a chance to trudge out racist stereotypes—helps perpetuate the whole “white-as-default” notion endemic to American culture (and, of course, not just American culture).Well, Aisha, now that you are (presumably) grown up, there are a few things you should know:
First, there is no Santa Claus. It's made up. I'm sure it has been a difficult realization for you, since it obviously scarred your fragile childhood ego, but it is time to grow up and put away childish things.
Second, the whole myth of Santa Claus (aka, Saint Nicholas) is from Northern Europe, where all the natives are white. Isn't it just a bit racist of you to suggest that whites should have to change one of their mythological figures into an animal just because you don't like his skin color?
Third, Santa is from the North Pole (or, Finland). In either case, areas to which penguins aren't native. Are you so unfeeling that you don't care about all the kids that will be confused that the fat, jolly old elf from the North Pole is suddenly a runty bird without wings from the South Pole? Instead of leaving out cookies and milk for him to eat, having to leave a couple smelly herrings? Instead of coming down the chimney, he now swims up through the toilet? What type of scarring will that cause, for some kid to think that his present was pulled up through a toilet by a fishy-smelling bird? That kid will be paying for counseling until she is so old and gray that the ObamaCare death panel pulls the plug on her respirator.
(H/t Weasel Zippers)