Santa Claus Comes to tha ‘hood
Back in the day, every Christmas my pops used to blast James Brown’s song “Santa Claus Come Straight to the Ghetto” from the speakers of our 8 track stereo. The kids in the neighborhood would groove to that jam, all having fond thoughts of the jolly ol’ White dude coming to the ‘hood on December 24th and sliding down the chimn…(um, I guess garbage chute) of every Black boy and girl who had been nice instead of naughty. It was not until much later that I discovered that “Chris Kringle” was the reason that many of us were trapped in a mental “ghetto” in the first place. Now, I hope that somebody jacks Santa for his combat boots and busts Rudolph in his shiny red nose.
I don’t have anything against the “spirit of Christmas.” I mean who can be mad at folks sitting down spreading holiday cheer?
But what really gets my goat…(reindeer) is the politics and false history of X-Mass when it comes to Africans in America.
Despite what Sister Ruth taught you in Sunday school class, Christmas, as a religious celebration, really has nothing to do with African people. Although the Biblical stories took place in Northeast Africa (misnamed the “Middle East”) the actual “holiday” is a European concept originating from the Roman (Saturnalia) and European (Winter Solstice) festivals. As Christianity spread throughout Europe and other areas, in order to attract new converts, they would mix with existing cultures and incorporate that culture into Christianity. This is explained well in Dr. Ishakamusa Barashango’s great work “Afrikan People and European Holidays: A Mental Genocide.”
Also, contrary to what Rev. Jones is going to tell you in his annual “Sweet Little Jesus Child born in a manger” service, even the terms “Christian” and “Jesus” are derived from Greek terms as a result of Greek Hellenism followed by Euro–cultural and military imperialism. The Black people of that region spoke Aramaic and Hebrew, not old English that sounds like it came straight out of a Shakespearean play. The color of the people of the Bible was changed from Black to White courtesy of European artists such as Michelangelo and others in the 16th century who used his family members to pose as the people of the Bible.
Santa Claus is a result of a mixture of tales of the Catholic St. Nicholas, German and other European fairy tales that manifested themselves in the United States in the early 1800’s that became transformed into Santa Claus, the patron saint of American capitalism and commercialism.
So the obvious question is, if X-Mass has nothing to do with Black folks, why do parents across the country allow Lil’ Tyrone and Lil’ Shaniqua to run through the mall to be the first one to sit on Santa’s knee every year? Although the person whose birth you celebrate every December 25th (who would have actually been born in September or October) came from a lineage of rebels and idol smashers, why are we still scared to oppose the lies associated with X-Mass in 2007? Why do Black folks feel that we have to decorate more, spend more and party more than everybody else in America?
Well, the status quo (business owners etc.) know how to make X-Mass and other Euro-celebrations and holidays that don’t have anything to do with Black folks so irresistible that even the most “pro- Black” of us can get caught up in the moment if we are not careful. Be honest, how many times have you been walking through the mall and found yourself humming “Dreaming of a White Christmas” along with the mall intercom system? And personally, I believe that the 48 Hour “It’s a Wonderful Life” marathon on TV is part of some diabolical brainwashing plot.
This can be traced back to the plantation where the “slaves” were given a day off and a new pair of work boots every X-Mas. So, today the modern day slaves are still given the day off and go out and spend $150 on a new pair Nikes. How many of us would still be in the “Christmas Spirit” if it wasn’t for the paid day off, Nintendo Wii and the slammin’ X-Mass Eve party at the club?
Also, since being robbed of our history and culture, it is fairly easy for us to be seduced into assimilating into someone else’s idea of spiritual and cultural expression.
While some may point to Kwanzaa as an alternative to X-Mass. Kwanzaa in and of itself does not challenge the false images of X-Mass nor correct the historical misinformation surrounding the white-washing of a religious expression practiced globally by millions of Black people which is historically African at its core.
Also, now that Kwanzaa has become more commercial, many who put on Kwanzaa events are trading in Afrocentricity for a universal culturalism. In order to get corporate sponsorship, Kwanzaa in many cities is no longer a Black thing but something that can be shared by the “entire community.” Pretty soon even Kwanzaa may go the way of jazz, rock and roll and hip hop. So don’t be surprised if your next Kwanzaa event is sponsored by Jack Daniels and features a group of White fiddlers and djembe players from Alabama.
Despite what grandma did, it is time for us to reevaluate the social and historical reasons that we engage in certain behaviors. As Kurtis Blow once rapped “this ain’t 1823, it ain’t even 1970.” Black folks are no longer forbidden to read as we were during slavery and with all the technology available at our fingertips, there is no excuse for us to be ignorant.
So, am I saying that you should take all those gifts that you brought back to Walmart and demand a refund in the name of Black empowerment? No, but we at least owe it to our children to tell them the truth. In the long run, this will be the greatest gift that we could give them.
(Min. Paul Scott represents the Messianic Afrikan Nation in Durham, NC. He can be reached at PO Box 3474 Durham, NC 27702 (919) 451-8283.)