by Roland S. Martin
Making fun of Fox News’ Megyn Kelly for her vigorous-without-a-doubt-make-no-mistake insistence that Santa Claus and Jesus Christ are both white would be like taking candy from a child.
Yet, when the laughter dies down and you finish calling her delusional for becoming the butt of jokes across the country, it’s important to step back and realize that her thinking is in line with generations of whites in America who have accepted — and demanded — that the rest of us conform to a standard way of living that is by, for and all about whites.
Oh, I know she has since said she was joking and tried to portray herself as the victim of race baiters, but that is simply a great spin job.
Despite this nation having black, Asian, Hispanic and Native-Americans for centuries, the white American view of what is American has held steadfast. This is just reality, folks.
Recently, a Hampton, Va. woman was awarded nearly $68,000 from a veteran’s affairs hospital for denying her a job because of the dreadlocks in her hair. Yes, American taxpayers have to fork over that money — and possibly even more because they are negotiating back pay — because the three individuals who interviewed her were aghast that she had the audacity to have dreadlocks as a hairstyle.
Was she the best qualified? Yes. Should she have gotten the job? Yes. But the moment she walked out of the room, the three interviewers decided that her hairstyle would scare patients and co-workers, so she wasn’t hired. Essentially, they decided on a standard that didn’t take into account cultural differences. Now we have to pay because of their actions.
When I discussed this issue on my TV One Cable Network show, “News One Now,” I asked my crew members their thoughts on the standard view of the all-American beauty. On this day, there were three black guys and three white guys. They all agreed that in America, a true American beauty is a buxom, blonde, blue-eyed white woman.
That is an image that has been driven into our subconscious for years through mass media. We see it on television commercials, magazine ads, billboards and every form of advertising. If we see a sea of white faces, that is considered the norm. Throw in some color, all of a sudden that is received differently.
That was the point Aisha Harris was trying to make in her Slate piece that set Megyn Kelly off. Harris was saying that growing up, she saw a black Santa at home, and every else had a white Santa.
“I feel like a lot of kids can probably relate because you are inundated with images of Santa only being white,” Harris told me. “I feel like that kind of needs to change because the world in America is not that white anymore. Things have changed.”
Instead of understanding the history of images and how they greatly to determine stereotypes and establish a pattern of what is acceptable or not, Kelly tried to pound it home even further by essentially saying, “Kids, ignore this black woman. All is well in the world. Santa is has been white, is white and will always be white.”
Here is a news anchor, one that makes clear she is not an opinionated host, making a declarative statement about a fictional character! If Santa is fake, then why can’t he become black, Hispanic, Asian, Arab, Jewish or any other ethnic group or nationality?
Because in the minds of Kelly and others, there is a desire to maintain the symbols they grew up, which continue to reinforce the notion of white privilege and superiority.
She made matters worse by being just as aggressive in stating that Jesus Christ was a white man, even though anyone who understands the region where Jesus was born knows that he was a man of color.
In fact, the book of Daniel describes him as having hair like lamb’s wool and feet like bronze. You ever seen a white man look like that without the assistance of tanning spray?
The image that has been drilled in our heads today of how Jesus looks is not based on fact. It is solely the fictitious work of Michelangelo and his paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Yes, the white Jesus we see today in churches across the country is not based on anything but the fervent imagination of a painter.
Many of you who think this is much adieu about nothing should realize that the power of images could have a lasting impact.
The famous doll tests of African-American psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark played a key role in the Supreme Court ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education case that outlawed segregated schools.
In their tests, they were able to illustrate the hostile and negative that black children had about dolls that looked like them, while having a higher appreciation of white dolls.
In Bill Duke and Chan Berry’s 2011 documentary, “Dark Girls,” they examined the hateful ways in which dark-skinned women were affected by these images. Young girls today considered themselves ugly and unworthy because of their skin color. Why? Because the dominant society — white society — has long held that the essence of true beauty is that of a white woman.
One man who understands the power of images is Tom Burrell, the founder of one of the top black advertising agencies in history, Burrell Communications, and a member of the Advertising Hall of Fame. Over his long career, he has played a role in changing the views of many through the images they see.
Burrell, the author of “Brainwashed: Challenging The Myth of Black Inferiority,” told me that we must continue to fight the constant mainstream standard being that of someone white.
“The propaganda mills keep grinding out the myth of white superiority,” Burrell said on TV One. “It’s an essential element of coping with the issues that face them. We see an increasing encroachment, if you will, of white supremacy and people are fighting back and screaming. It’s breaking up this whole issue of white magic; the magical power of whites, whether white Santa Claus or white Jesuses.”
The power of these images is so powerful that Megyn Kelly and others who think like her may not even realize how they have arrived at such conclusions. Just like the images have a negative effect on minorities, they have the opposite affect for whites. In their world; that’s just how it is. They’ve never been confronted with having to understand any alternate point of view. Now faced with pushback, the Kellys of the world revolt, wondering why black folks and others are making such a big deal out of Santa Claus or Jesus Christ being white.
As America becomes less white and more black and brown, white Americans are going to have to learn to come grips that not everything will be about them. The mainstream will no longer be a code word for white.
You’re going to have move over and start sharing the space with the rest of us. It’s going to happen, whether you like it or not.
Roland S. Martin is senior political analyst for TV One and author of the book “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin.” Please visit his website at www.RolandSMartin.com. To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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