I was listening to the news on Radio 5… Hang on, I’m showing my age here, 5FM. I heard a story about a black man in the USA who is suing a department store because he claims he was told they wouldn’t hire him because he was black. On the surface he seems right, but there is more to it.

Growing up I always saw Santa Clause as male, old, fat, bearded and yes, white. This is not racist. The image we see of Santa Clause today first appeared (if I passed my Obscure History 101 classes) on a Coca-Cola advertising board holding a Coke (true, honest). Hence all the red and white in the outfit. So the character is white. So the department store wants to, wait for it, hire a white person to portray him. What bastards. What evil, malicious bastards. They’re obviously mad!

There are two ways to argue this one. Either Santa Clause is imaginary (from the adult point of view) or he is real (from the child’s point of view). Either way it doesn’t make sense. For the job this man is doing we should classify him as an actor. He is portraying a character, Santa Clause. Would “Gone with the Wind” have worked if Rhett Butler (fictional character) was black? Would the movie Malcolm X (real character) have worked if the lead was played by a white man?

To use a situation from a Peter Cook and Dudley Moore sketch with an actor (Moore) turning up to audition for the part of Tarzan. As Peter Cook says to Dudley Moore: “I would like to draw attention to your leg. It’s a beautiful leg, a wonderful leg. I like your leg very much. I think it is safe to say that I have nothing against your leg. The problem, you see, is: neither have you.”

Would the movie Tarzan have worked if played by a man with one leg? No. If you are the wrong colour for a part you are missing something vital. It may as well be a leg. None of this is racism. And it is a symptom of a bigger problem.
If I wore a T-shirt tomorrow with the words: “I’m white and I’m proud” printed on it people would label me a racist. A black man wearing a T-shirt saying: “I’m black and I’m proud” is treated differently. He is not racist. He is proud of what and who he is. Why can’t I be? You do not have to be ashamed to be white. Not in South Africa, not anywhere.

The politically correct culture of the last 10 years or so has told us that we are all the same, not to see people as different. I say that’s wrong. Everyone is different. Our hair, our eyes, our skin colour, our voices, our loves, our hates, our way of not listening to people who are boring us to tears (maybe that’s the same, actually). Why can’t we deal with that and embrace who and what we are?

The sad thing is that the department store is already backtracking and claiming that his skin colour had nothing to do with not hiring him. They are too frightened to stand up for themselves. Another sad thing is that they will probably lose their court case anyway.


2 Responses to “98.12.17 Black Santa”

  1. Mike Says:

    Television news is like a lightning flash. It makes a loud noise, lights up everything around it, leaves everything else in darkness and then is suddenly gone.

  2. Ans Says:

    Thanks for this great post, i have bookmarked your site in the hope there will be more of this



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