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.
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.