African American holiday cards

Oh, if a simple blog post about Black Santa can get Fox News’ Megyn Kelly all riled up, let me hip her to some African American family truth that’ll make her effing head explode: practically every African American family I know sticks not only to Black Santa, but brown people on any and every item that has a face on it.

If we give birthday cards, we’re reaching for the Hallmark Mahogany joints with the Black people on it. If my daughters wear shirts with people’s faces on their chests, you best believe those faces are brown—or the shirt will not get bought. Art that I spend my  hard-earned money on? Black artists. Black faces. Same for pillows, wallpaper and magazines I display on the tables throughout my home.

Raise your hand if you went to a church that had a Black Jesus on the big stained-glass window behind the pulpit at your church. Bonus points if his hair mirrored scripture and looked like “lamb’s wool” and his feet were the color of “brass.” Triple that if you’ve ever purchased a card from a drug store that didn’t carry the Mahogany line, and colored in the faces/hands/feet and anything else that looked like skin with brown crayon/marker/anything that can make the characters look like you and the people you love.

What you know about the wrapping paper with the Black Santa on it?

Oh, it’s out there. I got some, please believe it.

Because I’ve known since I was old enough to focus my eyes and understand the words coming out of my own mother’s mouth that while society ignores our very existence, we are to embrace and uplift the beauty of us in any and every way possible, especially when we’re celebrating ourselves. Bettye Millner was very clear about this, and stood firm in it, even when it was most difficult to do so—not just by pulling out brown markers to color in the faces on those Hallmark cards, but by saying “no” when every fiber in her being wanted so badly to simply say, “yes” to “other.”

I’ll never forget the Christmas when I begged her to buy me a Candi doll. It was basically a plastic head that came with lots of make-up, hair curlers, a comb and brush and a shock of long blonde hair. Problem was, the Candi head came only in white. And Bettye refused—absolutely, categorically, without hesitation refused—to hook a sistah up if that Candi’s skin wasn’t the same color as mine. Crying. Tantrums. Fall outs. None of that stuff worked on her. My mom wasn’t having it. Brown girls get brown dolls—period, point blank and in that order.

I didn’t get it then, but as a mother in charge of safe-guarding my babies from the constant barrage of attacks against Black girl beauty, I certainly get it now, and I surround my children and fill my home with a beautiful reflection of us. And trust and believe, we are deliciously chocolate, surrounded by technicolor, jewel tones and lots of light—the same light that shines down on our Black Santa when he comes sliding down our chimney with gifts wrapped with Black Santa wrapping paper.

Sorry if that makes your effing head explode, Megyn. I got some white paper towels, though, if you need a lil’ something to help you clean that mess up.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

18 Comments

  1. Thanks for the post. Good stuff. We have colored in the Willow Tree figurines. Not many of those are black. But we try to have a variety of colors at home since that looks like our family.

  2. …or spent months coloring in the people in your future child’s Children’s Bible with colored pencils.

  3. What I thought was so absurd was that Megyn Kelly so proudly declared that not only was Santa white but also Jesus. She claimed that both were historical facts. (Which is incorrect in Jesus’s case and Santa is a mythical being.) She has personified both against the facts. But she couldn’t fathom other ethnicities wanting to see Santa in their own image?!

    At least the blogger at Slate was willing to compromise and say Santa should be portrayed as a penguin both black and white.

    Anyway, I sure wish you were on that panel to set her straight. It was so ridiculous.

  4. you are too fierce!

  5. I love this!! Reminds me of the woman in the Hallmark store the other that day told me, “Ma’am there are more cards over here if you don’t have to have the Mahogany kind.” I blurted out, “but they don’t have Black people on them”. You are right on point and I hope Megyn runs across this.

  6. As a white conservative I was absolutely appalled (but not very shocked) when I watched the interview. My husband and I are in the process of adopting an African American child due in June, and you better believe both Jesus and Santa will be distinctly brown in our home! My heart aches because of the implications of Kelly’s comments and how far we have to go as a society. My question for her and other white people who agree with her is this: What makes you so uncomfortable with a black Santa? Is it that you feel your white privilege is being taken away?

    I pray our brown Lord Jesus will convict her heart!

  7. I’m curious about what black parents tell their kids when constantly confronted with white images of Santa and white mall Santas. For mall Santas, I know that myself and other parents often say that Santa has “helpers” that can be in different places at once, which would explain why he looks different from one spot to another, but obviously we don’t want to say that the “real” Santa is a fictional character. I’ve never had to confront questions from my children about Santa’s race, probably because my kids have seen so few, if any, depictions of a black Santa, I’m sorry to say. I guess if the question came up, I might say that no one really knows what the “real” Santa looks like, just like they don’t know exactly what Jesus looked like, although we know he was Jewish, and say that different people represent him in different ways. If any other parents want to chime in on this, I would love to hear their thoughts!

  8. It is good to know I’m not the only crazy person coloring in the people on cards to make them brown. We only buy black dolls for my daughter and for the first 4 years of her life we only visited the black Santa. It broke my heart when she asked to go to see the “real Santa” last year.

  9. Image is everything! That fox news chick (just like most TV anchors) was told to say what she said because the image of Jesus is slowly starting to change in the minds of parents. The parents then go on to inform their children as well and so on. The image of Jesus and all other heros being white only, has a huge influence on the behavior of non whites to fall into obedience of people that call themselves white. Just imagine, If the greatest, sweetest, most kind hero (being Jesus) that ever lived in the history of the universe is actually brown, no matter how many times news programs show blacks committing crimes, will ever out do that of a black savior of the world.

  10. So as a white person should I only show my children white depictions, only let them listen to white artists, only watch white programs and only have white toys? You are only sheltering your child from reality sweetie. When they go out on their own they are going to be dumbstruck by all the white. And it will be your fault.

    • Lil White Girl,

      Are you THAT naive and so blind to your privilege that you can’t see the world around you? Everything around my children is run by mostly white folks: their teachers, their extra curricular instructors, their coaches, the TV shows they watch, the music they listen to, the books they read. Indeed, if I don’t intervene and pull their beautiful faces toward mine and show them the beauty of US, they’ll hardly ever see themselves at all. And please don’t pretend like your life is so diverse that your children see a panoply of colors in their lives. I’m surrounded by white folks—neighbors, friends and acquaintances alike—who would never read a book, hear a song, see a TV show, have a friend who is African American if it wasn’t for being around me and mine. Please, don’t come here to MBB and be so… pedestrian. We don’t do simple thinking here. Sweetie.

      • Oh dear,

        Those were my hypothetical children I was talking about. But seeing as I live in a very diverse part of Houston (poor and full of welfare) I can tell you I am around people of color all day. I work at a school where there ate no joke, five white children. The majority of teachers are of color, and so are the school admin and the guidance counselour. I have no problem with people of color. Some of my favorite shows and music are by people of color. I was raised by a black woman who I considered my second mama for a large portion of my teens. I prefer soul food to white food (tasteless usually) anyday. Give me oxtails and yams and Madea and I will hug you. Give me a book by Zane and girl I am your best friend. But don’t assume I am priveledged. I am far from it. This white skin affords me very little where I live, it is my education that got me where I am, trust. But I would never limit my children and money to only supporting my race. It’s just ignorant. I just love how you can call it pride, but if I did the same it would be called racist.

        • If, when you saw the word “privilege,” you assumed I was talking about what you have in your pockets and bank account, then you need way more education than I thought. And clearly, more black friends.

          • Did you seriously only get that I am not rich out of that entire comment. You need to work on reading comprehension and trying not to see rascism and ignorance just because it suits your vision of me. I know damn well you meant white priviledge. And if you actually read my comment you would have saw that I lived in a low income area. Not that I myself was low income.

  11. Lil White Girl,

    Girl, bye. It’s time for you to move it along. NOTHING for you to see here. Clearly. Go’on now. Shoo.

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