A Story: November 10, 2017

Mom called today fit to be tied and told me a story. She collects Hallmark Christmas ornaments and every year gets a new Santa in a particular ornament series. Mom goes to the Hallmark Store in a nearby town to pick up Santa. She chose between one that had a brown robe and one that had a white robe, choosing the Santa with the white robe because he will stand out better on the Christmas Tree. Mom takes the ornament up to the cashier and the cashier looks down at the Santa, looks at my mom, and sheepishly says, “I just want to point out to you that this is a black Santa.” “So?” “This Santa is black, do you still want him?” “Of course I still want him!” The cashier tells mom, “Well I only clarify because I sold an ornament to a man recently and it was a black Barbie. His wife called soon after and screamed at me for selling a black Barbie ornament to her husband without telling him.”

At this point my mom is horrified. I obviously was not with her. But I know exactly how she must have looked, her body language, her tone of voice, and how this must have gone down. Mom goes, “You know what? Jesus was born in the Middle East. And guess what? He would have had dark skin!” The cashier smiles at mom and says that she knows and agrees. My mom ended with, “I don’t have time to deal with ignorant people.”

Knowing my mother, this particular Santa will be displayed front and center on the tree–with a spotlight if she could rig it up. My friends, this is what racism looks like. A white woman so incensed that a Hallmark employee sold her husband a Barbie ornament that happened to be a black Barbie that she screamed at her. And the trickle down effect of her warning every person who comes to that Hallmark Store thereafter that certain ornaments depict black people. Because God forbid there be Christmas ornaments that depict black people on a white person’s Christmas Tree—a holiday we celebrate to rejoice for the birth of a Middle Eastern Jewish man born in Bethlehem.

Photo by Debera Lorincz.