I remember when I first saw Santa’s Helpers in Brussels: white guys in black face.
I thought: That’s weird.
This is what they looked like:
I guess I should have been insulted, like everyone else appears to be all of a sudden. Which I find odd. I’ve known this European Christmas story for close to 10 years. Found it more entertaining than hearing about a obese guy living with his wife in a really cold place and commanding an army of pointy-eared little people dressed in green.
That seems pretty offensive, right?
Like if you had a choice between being accosted by this or by the black guys up higher, which one would freak you out the most?
And as a parent, I really wish I could have told my kid when he was little: “Look. You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout. I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town with a bunch of black guys, and they’re gonna kick your ass if don’t get your act together.”
But, really, I never saw Santa’s helpers beat up kids in Belgium. They never even looked funny at kids. All they did was smile.
And not just on the street. I was at a fancy restaurant in Brussels called La Quincallerie with my boss, who came from the states around the holiday. So we’re having a nice dinner, and a couple of Santa’s Helpers come in, raising money for charity. My boss looks at me, wondering how he should react, and I tell him the story of the Spanish Santa.
Probably didn’t resolve anything. But there was an internal logic to the story.
Unlike the fat guy with a bunch of flying caribou.
But if you want to see a really disturbing Christmas story (Really, don’t watch this if you don’t want to be offended. This is really vile. You have been warned):
I told you not to watch it. Makes the black guys look tame, right?
- David Sedaris: “Six to eight black men” (a hysterical explanation of the Dutch Santa) (americablog.com)
- My Favourite Christmas Story: Katy Darby on David Sedaris’s “Santaland Diaries” (liarsleague.com)