Danny explores whether the “Can Santa Be a Black Man?” bulletin board was inherently racist.
Indiana University’s Community Education program recently put a bulletin board in the Foster Residence Center asking the question, “Can Santa Claus be a Black man?”
It wasn’t long before the display was taken down after sparking outrage and debate. At face value I can certainly understand asking things like, “Can Santa Claus be a Black man” and “If Santa Claus were a Black man would he only visit the ghetto?” causing problems. However at the same time I can’t help but think that these questions, as well as the thoughts behind them, need to be put in the spotlight.
It would be really easy to just say that these things are offensive and then try to shut down any discussion, but I think shutting down discussion is part of the very reason that these racist stereotypes are allowed to flourish. It would do a lot of good to have an open conversation to confront the ideas and teachings that encourage such thoughts.
These are the kinds of thoughts and sentiments that Black people face each and every day and I believe that we have seen that just expecting them to go away by shouting “That’s racist!” simply will not work. The board had room for people to respond to the questions so it looks like they were trying to get some conversation going and make people think. I think it would have gone better in a designated forum but I can understand and respect that they wanted to post the questions in a way that could catch the eyes of passersby.
Imagine someone giggling about the idea of a black Santa only going to the ghetto but then realizing just how terrible a thought that is. That person would be challenged to think about what that entails. Why would Santa only visit the ghetto? Does that mean being black means the ghetto is their place and there’s no way they could live anywhere else? Would an image of a white Santa mean that he only visits white neighborhoods? Or maybe they say something to that effect and someone questions them about it?
I guess what I’m trying to say is that while they may need to be executed in a more proper manner the conversations this board was trying spark need to happen and I think that some people have been a touch too quickly to say that this board was spreading racism and ignorance.
What do you think about this bulletin board and the intent behind it?