In this May 9, 2012 photo, from left, Willie Robertson, Korie Robertson, Phil Robertson, Miss Kay Robertson and Si Robertson pose at the A&E Networks 2012 Upfront at Lincoln Center in New York. The Robertsons star in the A&E reality series “Duck Dynasty.” (AP Photo/Starpix, Kristina Bumphrey)
Santa Claus is white. So is Jesus. Black people were godly before the days of entitlements and welfare. Back in the days of Jim Crow, black people were happy.
These are some of the insane and insensitive assertions that have been made in the media recently. When Fox News reporter, Megyn Kelly, made statements about the race of Santa and Jesus, it caused a stir. First, despite the fact that most of the pictures we see of Jesus depict him as a blonde haired, fair skinned, blue-eyed man, he most likely was a dark haired, olive skinned, brown eyed man of color. Maybe he was not black, but almost certainly he was not white. I’m sure that Megyn would never be comfortable accepting that fact. But the assertion that Santa was white, as if he is a real person was slightly delusional. Maybe next she’ll tell us that the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost, and the Easter Bunny are all white as well. They likely are in her world. But there is a certain level of arrogance, of white privilege that allows her to deny people of color the right to make the Santa in their home whatever color they are comfortable with.
Phil Robertson of the A&E Network show Duck Dynasty also found himself in hot water and his show has now been put on hold by the network after statements regarding blacks being happier during the times of Jim Crow and homosexuality leading to other types of sin like bestiality were blasted by organizations like NAN and GLAAD. The statements were made to GQ in a recent interview, but represent a misguided narrative that we’ve seen too many times before. And as we’ve seen before, when people are aghast that these thoughts and statements could still exist in 2013, there are statements released backing away from their venom.
Both Robertson and Kelly made public statements that almost suggested that their statements were misunderstood or that they didn’t mean what they said in the way that they said it. But the issue is that these statements go much deeper. People rarely say things like this without truly believing them. For both Robertson and Kelly’s part, they have platforms that reach hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. Mistruths, misguided beliefs, and flat out bias can spread like a disease if allowed. In the case of Robertson, maybe that won’t be allowed, but in the case of Kelly, she will continue to use her “tongue-in-cheek” sense of humor to promote that white is right and anything else is less.
As someone who works in civil rights, I know that like Coretta Scott King once said; freedom is won with every generation. I am working diligently to do my part to make this world free from hate, prejudice, bias, and all other discrimination. But the true work is not silencing the voices that make statements against others because of their color, their religion, their sexual preference, the lack of money they have or any other reason. Those actions are simply a symptom of a larger disease. That larger disease is xenophobia, fear of things that are different. The disease is still alive and though at times it lies dormant, it is there behind the eyes and smiles and various ways that people have learned to cope with it. But if we ever truly want to live in a world where people aren’t judged or devalued or demoralized based on those differences, we have to find the cure. By educating people like Phil Robertson and Megyn Kelly why they are wrong, maybe we can change their minds. Even if it doesn’t work, we have to try.