An African-American student, Christopher Rougier, a freshman at Cleveland High School, was wearing Santa garb during a school holiday dress-up day last week, when a teacher asked him why he was wearing a Santa outfit.
The teacher then told the young man he couldn't be Santa, because Santa was white, the boy's father, Michael Rougier, told KOAT. “He was embarrassed.”
Mr. Rougier said the teacher called his wife to apologize, but he felt that wasn't enough. “He needs to be fired. For him to make a comment like that, there has to be at a minimum prejudice in him, and we don’t have room for that,” Rougier said.
Rio Rancho Public Schools Director, Kim Vesely, released this statement to the media, saying:
This situation involves a teacher recently hired by Cleveland High who made — and admits he made — a stupid mistake,” the director said. “The remark was inappropriate and should not have been made. The teacher feels very badly about what occurred. He self-reported the incident to the principal and has apologized to the student and to the student’s parent. Appropriate disciplinary action has been taken.”
Mr. Rougier asked that his son be removed from the teacher's class, and the school complied, according to Vesely.
There is more to the story, now that Fox News has gotten into the middle of the fray. Slate.com carried a piece by writer Aisha Harris, who is black. Harris wrote about growing up black and wondering why Santa was always portrayed as being white. Harris commented that it might be better if he were depicted as a penguin.
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, in a segment that has been widely viewed and commented on, said on air:
“And, by the way, for all of you kids watching at home, Santa just is white, but this person is arguing maybe we should also have a black Santa. But, you know, Santa is what he is. And so, you know, we’re just debating this because someone wrote about it, kids.”
The writer, Harris said that Kellk's comments were the reason she felt the need to write a response, getting people to think about Santa's race.
The comments between Harris and Kelly have flown back and forth, neither one being obtuse about the matter, but instead, provoking people to think about a tradition hundreds of years old, the classical description of St. Nicholas, and now, Santa Claus.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, but his color is really not that important, especially if we look past the color-barrier so many people insist on putting up. It's not even a matter of being politically correct, because that is something most kids wouldn't understand.