FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Actually, Santa is Cajun and Puerto Rican

The current media driven controversy over the ethnicity of Santa Claus, reminds me that back in 2008, I annoyed some and amused others by claiming that Obama was white.

After all, he was born of black and white parents, grew up in a white culture, had a white extended family and was educated in, among other things, the eminent whiteness of the Harvard Law School.

The definition of Obama as black is based on our cultural rules of race, which is itself a racist concept. This is why I use the term ethnic whenever possible to distinguish between true cultural heritage rather than a gross misinterpretation of DNA based primarily on skin color.

One of the interesting thing about the current rules is that they are accepted by both noisy opposing camps on the subject, albeit in Obama’s case as either a curse or salvation.

Although seven percent of new children in America come from multiethnic parents, there is remarkably little recognition or celebration of this. And it certainly seems to be largely ignored in the white liberal lexicon.

Thus it is rare to see in print thoughts such as these in the Washington Post last year by Joy Freeman-Coulbary:

Dr. King’s post racial society is not one of complete homogeneity but a celebration of its complete heterogeneity. Dr. King’s open and free society is a positive utopia in which diversity is embraced and people are not marginalized, ghettoized or isolated based upon racial and ethnic differences. Interracial love and unions are a metaphor for this progress as well as the convergence of “races” and cultures…

As woman of African, Irish, Mexican and Native American descent, married to a husband of Senegalese and Portuguese descent, I believe that intermarriage contributes to inter-cultural understanding and diminishes racial prejudices and tensions. The less we adhere to “race,” the less racism persists. Romantically, it’s also spicy and thrilling to defeat our hardwired biases and find love in the less familiar…

By coalescing around salient issues, instead of race, we can more effectively challenge unfair systems, demand accountability from our leaders and be more unified to fight elites and corporate interests. Breaking ourselves into racial subgroups dilutes our ability to unite aggressively behind issues that impact the vast majority of Americans.

After all, “race” is literally a science fiction. The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, Human Genome Program has found that “race” does not exist and that it is a fallacy not based in science.

I learned that latter truth decades ago as an anthropology major in college and have been stunned in the succeeding years how little progress we have made towards understanding it. It has strange effects on how we view things. For example, the fact that Barack Obama has a half sister who is half American white and half Asian gets virtually no attention because it spoils the “first black president” myth.

Obama, of course, gets to call himself whatever he wants, but as a political matter it’s interesting to consider how his story might have been different if he had been willing to run as our first multicultural president, representing in his own background the complex ethnic story of America and symbolizing how it is something of which we should be proud and not conceal.

I didn’t just learn about such things as an academic matter. I have a Puerto Rican sister-in-law with four children. And I have a godson who has white and black parents and watched him struggle with this as when in high school he declared his independence by becoming a Republican (and providing his godfather with Dole-Kemp signs on his lawn as well as membership cards in the GOP and NRA). Then, in college he became a socialist and now is teaching German at Yale and doing striking art of the side.

If I have an bias about such things it is that I dig multiculturalism. Which is why my CD of Chuck Brown and Eva Cassidy is one of my favorites. And why I love Treme and its tales of multicultural New Orleans. And one reason I felt so at home in my native Washington DC, the place where, in the days of segregation, blacks and whites from Virginia would take the train to Washington to exchange the marriage vows they weren’t permitted back home.

Those who want America to handle its ethnic variety better could help by reporting on and celebrating a country where seven percent of its children were born of parents who chose love over ethnicity.

So if you’re going to force me to define Santa Claus this year, I will argue that he or she is Cajun and Puerto Rican.

Merry Christmas.

Sam Smith edits the Progressive Review.

More articles by:

Sam Smith edits the Progressive Review.

Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail