Saying that I’m a little frustrated by the faux outrage that people have about a non-white Santa is putting it mildly. My very first experience with different opinions on skin color was when, just before I was about to go see Santa, I heard someone say “I hope he’s white.” I replied with “I hope he’s red,” because I really thought the speaker was talking about the clothes Santa would wear. Why would he wear white? Judging someone by or having expectation about skin color was a pretty foreign idea to me. Then again, I was four and grew up in probably the closest thing America has to a post-racial utopia. I was also Jewish, so I don’t know why I was going to go see Santa in the first place.
The reason why I got so pissed off about this diverse Santa controversy all kind of crystallized in my head when I heard Megan* Kelly, in her infinite ignorance, say something like “duh, Jesus is white.”
My husband is Middle Eastern (Persian Jewish). He is short, hairy, and swarthy. This is probably what Jesus looked like. Yes, Jesus was Jewish and I’m Jewish too, so maybe Jesus looked like me. Except I’m Eastern European and British. My family (my Jewish side) converted to Judaism sometime around 800-1100. My family is not (very) Middle Eastern.
I found this article talking about different portrayals of Jesus, particularly the Mormon portrayal. It discusses how the image traditionally accepted as Jesus by the Mormons is probably not very accurate. But the amazing thing is, and the author and I seem to agree, I don’t think it really matters. “I think many people and artists might tell you that this is more for comfort and familiarity rather than an attempt at being historically accurate. So it would make sense for a white artist living in a white culture (like Utah, or in a broader sense, Mormonism) to depict Christ as a being who would ‘fit in.'” I don’t think it’s a problem with the religion that they borrowed from other cultures (happy Saturnalia, everyone!) or that they draw their god-figure to look like the people who worship him. I think the problem is when they don’t acknowledge that.
So Jesus was depicted as white so Megan Kelly would feel comfortable worshiping him. In her ignorance, she forgot this. But with something more sinister than ignorance, she wants to deny other people the ability to feel comfort and familiarity not only with their god, but with their freaking Santa Claus. (The patron saint of prostitutes, IMHO, wasn’t so great! You paid the dad who was going to sell his daughters into slavery? Why not give the daughters a means to support themselves? Don’t tell me there are no professions open to women at the time other than prostitute!)
*I know it’s petty of me, but I kind of refuse to spell her name how she does. She just seems like the antithesis of the movement I see associated with putting “y” in place of vowels (ie, “womyn”) that it pisses me off irrationally and to no end that she spells her name with a “y.” And I’d rather be wrong then angry, so. Like how I refuse to use a gendered pronoun when talking about Phyllis Shitface. P.S. said something idiotic like how a woman’s primary place should be in the home. Since P.S. is not primarily in a home, perhaps P.S. is a man. I don’t know, so I won’t use a gendered pronoun.