A Multiracial Holiday

I can't image cramming that much racial thinking into our vacation as a mom of two multiracial children.

“Well before diversity in merchandising was a thing, my mother, like many black parents in the 1980s and 1990s, always MacGyvered peach-skinned Christmas figurines into mirror images of our own family. Mom carefully colored in the faces of elves on ornaments, angel tree toppers, carolers on Christmas cards, and, most importantly, all iterations of Santa Claus himself got the brown marker treatment,” wrote a black woman in the NYT.

I can't image packing so much racial consideration into our vacation as the parent of two multiracial children (my wife is Asian). I never considered using a yellow highlighter on any of the children's dolls. Dolls used to be molded in a horrifying pink that matched no skin tone on the planet, just like Bruce Springsteen of New Jersey sings in a midwestern-sounding dialect that fits no one spoken anywhere. I believe we all knew that it was all just a placeholder, similar to how yellow candy indicates lemon and green candy indicates lime, despite neither flavor having much to do with the actual fruit to which its color corresponds. We just didn't pay attention to it, rather than believing it was all a racist assault. Please pass the cranberry sauce.

"But it's different!" someone will undoubtedly object. Your children aren't African-American." This is correct. I do hope, though, that people would make up their minds on Asians. Are they discriminating against individuals of color, whom we should all be proud of, by excluding whites from university admissions? Should they be pushed off into the larger category of "pale people" when it comes to things like these, only to be reinstated in the POC club when a Chinese man beats out a white man for the first time in a city-council seat? Perhaps my children intended to feel disliked and excluded during Christmas, but instead ended up confused. It isn't my fault.

However, it's possible that it was me. Unlike the children in the New York Times piece, I was physically reared beneath white patriarchy's boot: me. I instructed them what to do, set the direction of their life for them, and forced them to read Tom Sawyer. In a way, yes. My wife was present, bringing with her a more educated viewpoint. She is, after all, an immigrant who does not speak English natively. On paper, she's more awake than anyone on The View. I suppose the kids were fortunate to have her in their lives so that their Christmases were not ruined by a lack of representation.

The New York Times article pointed out another way I failed my children: They did not get a letter from Yellow Santa. The writer found someone on Etsy who would send a personalized letter from Black Santa for a few bucks. I rushed over, thinking I might send my now-adult children something from Yellow Santa to make amends. 

The thing is, the Black Santa letter says exactly the same things our own fake White Santa letters once said—stuff about being a good kid, leaving out milk and cookies, all that. There’s nothing particularly “black” in the letter. The illustrated Santa does not even look like anything but the standard Santa with a tan. It seemed like a woke hustle. I checked with my Asian wife on this. She said, “Santa lives at the North Pole. Why would he be anything but fair skinned? Doesn’t make sense.” Good thing she’s an honorary POC, or we’d be racists.

The New York Times writer also expresses her delight at realizing that Macy's has a top-secret black Santa who may be requested. Accessing this Santa necessitates the use of a secret phrase that is verbally shared about woke New York City and also publicized in the New York Times. Macy's does not appear to have an Asian or Hispanic Santa. When asked about a black Santa, they refused to confirm it, yet it appears to be real. Is it possible to request separate lines for black and white toilets?

What's particularly amusing is that a mother who is ready to dupe her children into believing the entire Santa myth—which is a total fabrication from the reindeer on down—is concerned about the mythical character's skin hue. Bad news, lady: Santa will be irrelevant to your children in a few years since he isn't real, black or white.

Still, if you’re shopping, there is BlackSanta.com, which has all sorts of merch, including hoodies. Don’t bother with Asian Santa merch. The few figurines online don’t look Asian at all, which is weird, considering most are made in China. I did find some bright red “Naughty Mrs. Claus” lingerie worn by Asian models. That might be racist, too.

I also found a Japanese-American guy who believes strongly in the concept of Asian Santa. He actually claimed at one point that Santa originated in Greece, which is in Asia Minor, and thus claims that Santa is indeed Asian. The Asian Santa guy was adamant: “As a parent of an Asian American kid, I want to have him look up to people that look like him — even if they are fictional. I don’t want him to feel different, in a bad way. It’s important to expose him to Asian/Asian Americans he can look up to—Santa or someone else, it doesn’t matter.” So how about President Xi, or Kim Jong-un? They’re pretty successful Asians.

It’s all fun until it turns serious. I don’t feel bad about the way my kids grew up. I explained to them (not on Christmas) their great-great-grandfather was a slave. He died on May 7, 1943, alongside most of his loved ones in the Sobibor concentration camp, about 120 miles from Warsaw. Their grandfather, my dad, was a refugee, who came to America speaking no English. Discrimination in the progressive movement The family was compelled to alter their name to something "whiter" and abandon their faith by New York City. My father described getting beaten up by the Italian youngsters on the neighborhood, as well as the Italian cops who arrived to stop the beatings.

I'm not sure how to quantify horror. Is it more or less painful to have family enslaved by the Nazis in the twentieth century than it is to have relatives enslaved in the seventeenth? How do you compare it to the Chinese who died constructing railroads? Anti-union thugs and federal forces shot down iron workers? What about the coal workers who perished horribly from black lung? It turns out that race isn't the only thing that counts.

I find it insulting when CRT exponents claim any portion of the success I’ve had in life is related to what other white people did to other black people hundreds of years before anyone in my family arrived in America. That’s bull. I know whose back my success rests on.

For all the garbage claims about the alleged white-washing American history, we have no such illusions in our home. We understand how discrimination harmed our relatives, and we know what we all did to grow past it. It had a lot to do with education, sacrifice, and work, and very little to do with exaggerated claims to victimhood-by-association. The Times writer brings up her mother, who grew up in the same town where some black men in 1949 were unjustly accused of murder and rape. She demands a black Santa, in part, to  rectify this somehow.

My family is aware that America is a tough and flawed country that has routinely exploited many of its citizens. We understand that celebrating America's grandeur does not imply romanticizing a past that never existed. But this was once a country where hopes were spoken with a straight face. It was never designed to be a final destination where parents tell their children that because of racism, they will never be successful, or that coloring Santa with a different Crayola is part of the answer to their troubles.

Update: It turns out that the woman who penned the New York Times piece on black Santa is really marketing a children's book called "The Black Santa Christmas Story I Wanted My Children to Read.” She works for the Times. So the NYT article is not in fact a memoir of racial injustice. Instead, it’s a Grinchy grift, a commercial, an ad for her book. So we can all feel better. I hope you had a Merry Christmas!

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