Teacher to student: ‘You can’t be Santa Claus because you’re black’

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(Credit: Courtesy of Jonathan Meath via MGNOnline.com)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The family of an African-American high school student in New Mexico says he’s crushed after a teacher questioned why he was wearing Santa garb during a school holiday dress-up day last week, local TV station KOAT reported.

The teacher told Christopher Rougier, a freshman at Cleveland High School, that he couldn’t be Santa because Santa is white, the student’s father, Michael, told KOAT.

“He was embarrassed,” he told the station.

Now, his son doesn’t want anything to do with Christmas.

Michael Rougier said the teacher called his wife to apologize, but that’s not enough.

“He needs to be fired,” Rougier told KOAT. “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.”

Kim Vesely, the director of Rio Rancho Public Schools, released a statement to media about the incident.

“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.”

The boy’s family has asked that he be moved out of the teacher’s class, and the school has complied, Vesely said.

The teacher’s remark came amid something of a dust-up over Santa’s skin color after Fox News Channel picked up on a Slate.com writer’s piece questioning the mythical character’s ethnicity.

Writer Aisha Harris, who is black, wrote about growing up wondering why Santa was depicted as a white man, and argued for something less definitive: a penguin.

In a widely viewed segment reacting to Harris’ piece, Fox anchor Megyn Kelly 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.”

Harris said Kelly’s comments are part of the reason she felt the need to provoke thought about Santa’s race.

“To me, (it) just spoke to the reason why I wrote the piece, is that there are a lot of people out there who automatically assume that Santa must be white and there’s no way — it’s laughable that he could be anything else,” Harris said Sunday.

“The point I was trying to make was that I think that we have, the world has changed a lot over the last 50, 100 years, and Santa Claus is a fictional character,” Harris continued.

“He is nothing like the original historical figure he was based off of anymore,” she said. “We’ve kind of evolved him into this magical mythical figure, and for kids, I think it’s important that they don’t have to feel necessarily bogged down that Santa is always white, and that’s the way he should be.”

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11 comments

  • dapandico

    Wait for the rest of the story. Shades of the football player that had racial graffiti spray painted on his house & turns out moms was the culprit.

  • john cook

    I think we are missing the point here. I don’t know what we can do about such ignorance.

    Santa, like Jesus, is what we want them to be. I think it doesn’t matter what their color is. What matters is what they are and what they stand for.

    I think that teacher needs to RUN down to the altar and pray through.

  • Steve T.

    Racism at it’s finest. Teacher obvious didn’t watch SNL this past weekend…he’d know that the REAL Santa was black. This teacher is an idiot and needs to rethink his ‘teaching’ strategy. BAH Humbug!

  • Keven Kuzara

    Does it make a difference if Santa is white or black. When i was i kid, “I’m white BTW” For Halloween I dressed up like my Childhood hero, Walter Payton. “BTW was Black” i didn’t paint my face to look black, But i wore my Walter Payton jersey, and my Bears helmet, and as a small kid, Dreamed of being a great player like Walter Payton. If i would have been told even as a teen by a teacher that I should be Jim McMahon instead because Payton was Black and McMahon was white, i would have been devastated too. Santa Clause is i fictional character, he is of all faiths, colors, creeds, and nationalities. I don’t think this teacher should be fired, but he needs to punished, and probably should be made to attend and complete a sensitivity course. I don’t know if he’s racist, but to tell a kid he can’t dress like Santa because he is black is so incorrect. My heart goes out to this young man and his family. And to the teacher who immediately realized he made a very poor judgement statement. I believe that he is sorry for his comments, but punishment is still in order.

  • AMANDA P ZELLER

    Why it’s there a race card in everything? Black, white, red or people does it really matter? If you look up the history he has been depicted as white because of the orgin from which his story came from…. European. But what he is today is what our children perceive him to be. If you as a parent want him to be a certain color then depict him to your children that way, then tell them all the others are his helpers

  • David M Velasquez

    this teacher and no right to say anything and should have just left him alone. the teacher should have just kept her mouth shut… that’s just stupid I’m ignorant. on the teachers part.. Santa can be any jnationality.ust because jas and all the mall Santas are why doesn’t mean Santa was white…

  • fast45

    Duh … Santa’s white. You would be too, if you lived at the North Pole.

    Blacks are by far, the most racist demographic in America today. Imagine, the public outcry, if someone started a “White Chamber of Commerce” or “NAAWP”. Get over it … Newsflash: Snow White, is also white!

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