Here we go again. People are still debating whether a make-believe character can be a color other than their own.
The Mall of America — you know that place, America? Home of the widest variety of people on the planet? — anyway, the Mall has a Santa Claus this year who isn’t white, and that is making racists’ heads spin.
Many conservatives cannot stand the idea. Ronald Reagan would have never stood for it. (Here, of course, is where I insert a picture of Mr. T performing as Santa at the White House in the Reagan administration. Come on, you all knew that was coming.)
Santa is, of course, based on St. Nicholas, who was from Turkey, and thus was a darker skinned middle eastern man (just like Jesus!).
The idea that a fictional character like Santa must be white fits in with the conservative bubble, where everything involves them and has to fit into their world view or it either doesn’t exist (climate change, evolution) or it is changed to be just like them (Jesus and Santa).
But it’s not just Santa. I’ve seen science fiction geeks get all crazy when someone suggests that Superman could be black. “But he’s not!” they scream.
Well why not? Geez, he’s not even from earth. He could be green with yellow polka dots. Why would that distract from truth, justice, and the American way? (OK, well, admittedly it would make it harder to pose as mild-mannered Clark Kent…)
There are indeed instances where the race or gender or sexual orientation of a fictional character is important to the story — but if it’s not, who cares? Why does it matter one bit what race Santa is?
For that matter, artistic license allows you to change the race of real people. Look at Hamilton, the wildly successful play. There was a conscious choice to cast people of all races to make an artistic statement even while the story itself tried to be accurate. So what? It’s art. Enjoy it and stop insisting that everything has to revolve around you.