We don't need to dream of a White Christmas. It is white.
Below is a guest blog post from Karissa Crawley, a MAR Member and Co-Lead of our Education Advocacy Team. Karissa is a white mom to Black children. For many white parents of Black or Indigenous children - whether by birth, adoption, or fostering - there is the need to root out and acknowledge your racist biases in order to be a better parent to your children. It is hard work and can bring a lot of guilt and shame each time you realize a new biases you have or the privilege you've experienced that your children don't.
We are grateful to Karissa for sharing her journey and realizations so openly and honestly so that others may learn too. She knows she is still on her journey and is doing all that she can to be the best mom she can for her kids. Thank you for sharing this story with us, Karissa.
I have been on a journey to become anti-racist for a while now and it still surprises me when I uncover more of my unconscious bias and racist tendencies.
When I was a child, one of my favourite songs was White Christmas. I know the song is wishing for snow. But as I have become more aware of my white privilege and how I don’t have to think about inclusion, because society is catered to me, the words of that song have taken on new meaning.
As I prepared for Christmas this year I saw a post in Facebook Market Place for 2020 ornaments where you could pick the number of people on it and have the names of your family members put on each hat. I thought it was funny because of the toilet paper and hand sanitizer so I bought one for me and one for the father of my children. My sister also ordered one for me and my kids and when she gave it to us she had painted my kids to represent their skin colour.
I quickly realized my racial bias that had completely overlooked my children’s lack of representation within the ornament. I am so thankful for my sister’s recognition of this important step in representing my children within our family ornament. I was thankful I hadn’t given the one to their dad or hung up ours yet and that I could paint them still. After this realization I looked around our house at all of our decorations and realized that the only ones that reflected my kid’s skin colour were ones that we had bought to represent their Kenyan and Ugandan culture. None of the generic decorations represented anything but white skin colour. All angels, Santas, elves and Mrs. Clause are white.
This year, the question of why Santa isn’t black came up. I told them that we didn’t really know if he was or not, but then they pointed out to me that I had “caught him” on one of those apps where you film your fireplace and a generated image of Santa comes into the frame. He was white in that, he is white in out “texts from Santa”, he is white in almost every movie and tv ad they see. Within Canada, the only race represented at Christmas time is white. So many of our children don’t see themselves in Christmas decorations, movies, books or tv ads about the characters representing this holiday season. Although I will never understand how that feels, I can see the effect it has on my children, the exclusion they feel every year.
The joy on my daughter’s face when her auntie gave her a decoration with black faces on it, representing her and her brother, should have just been joy from a new decoration, but sadly, it was because she finally had a decoration that represented her.
I’m dreaming of an inclusive Christmas, where different cultures, races and traditions are represented in mainstream media and my daughter’s delight at a Christmas decoration is only because it is new.
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