Ayesha Harris had no idea the buzz she would create when she recommended The Christmas Penguin.
Ten years ago, the writer and journalist published A simple viral article Titled “Santa Claus Shouldn't Be a White Man Anymore,” he questioned the ubiquity of the white Santa figure.
“America is less white, but the melanin-deficient Santa defaults to commercials, mall casting calls and movies,” Harris wrote. “Isn't it about time our Santa image was better served All He entertains children every Christmas?” Indeed, he suggests, a Christmas penguin represents a holiday rather than a person.
The backlash was swift, especially after host Megyn Kelly responded to her Fox News show “The Kelly File.” “It's so ridiculous that someone is still saying having a white Santa is racist” Kelly said. “So, for all the kids watching at home, Santa is white.”
Kelly, who hosted “Megyn Kelly Today” on NBC from 2017 to 2018, did not respond to a request for comment. In 2017, Kelly told Business Insider She usually regrets, or wants to say otherwise, many of the things she's said on air, but she's never said outright that Santa is white.
Although Harris declined to comment, he described the incident Adapted area From his 2023 book, “Wannabe: Reckonings With the Pop Culture That Shapes Me.”
“As the internet exploded that night, it didn't take long to feel the debris fall,” he wrote. “I've never been called a n—– more in my life than after Santa Penguin.”
A decade later, in an increasingly ethnically diverse country about 40% The idea of what St. Nick could be if he identified as multiracial or non-white in the population expanded. It's not just families who make sure to break out the Black Santa decor this time of year. Non-white Santas appear in popular culture, throughout the Christmas season at the center of malls and on holiday merchandise everywhere.
For example, at some Macy's stores, known for their elaborate seasonal “Santaland” experience, shoppers can choose to meet a black Santa, a white Santa, or a Spanish-speaking Santa.
“At Macy's, we believe Santa is everything to everyone who finds joy in Santa's goodness and kindness,” Kathleen Wright, director of product operations for Macy's Santaland, said in a statement. “We treasure the memories families have created and shared with us over the years, and are happy to accommodate requests from near and far.”
In a video that went viral 10 years after Harris' article was published, Peter Gerber, who is white, gleefully stocked up on every black Santa item available at Target for his wife, Maria, who is black.
Maria Gerber told TODAY.com that Black Santas “make me happy. They make me laugh. They remind me that there was a time when they didn't exist.
For others, the conversation surrounding the icon is more nuanced.
Kelly Garrido, principal of Baltimore Beechfield Elementary School, said the season is about more than holiday numbers. “We never really saw Santa on 'The Beach,'” he told NBC News at Rockefeller Plaza during a school field trip to New York. “We're 97% black at our school, and we celebrate everything at our school: Kwanzaa, Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, all of that. We're in the holiday spirit, which is why I brought all my kids to New York, but celebrate people. We're not specifically talking about Santa Claus. We're Talking about good people and enjoying the spirit of the season.