My House Is Filled With Black Santas As A Foster Mom—Here’s Why

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“​​When I said yes to taking a placement of a nine-month-old baby girl one stormy summer night in 2019, I had no idea how much my life would change from one single decision. As I took this giant leap of faith, I did not know anything about her family, medical status, or skin tone.

From the moment I held her, I knew I had a new life purpose – to learn about African American culture. From hair care to skin health, to ways to expose her to racial mirrors and blend our two lives and make them whole. Countless thoughts washed over me like title waves from the second I first held her in my arms. 

The past three-and-a-half years have been nothing short of life-changing. I have always believed that fostering a child is to foster a family, and the best way to show support for a family of a different race is to embrace their culture to the best of one’s ability. I strive to affirm my foster daughter’s black identity without positioning her racial identity against social norms and stereotypes.

My desire to raise a black child to thrive and excel is about overcoming barriers while maintaining grace, dignity, and pride. To raise an emotionally-secure black child you must first learn what is wonderful and inspiring about black culture. 

Many people have fond memories of their childhood that center around the Christmas season. Whether it be making sugar cookies with Mom, making reindeer dust on Christmas Eve, or playing in the snow with Dad, you are filled with warm feelings when you hear the word Christmas. For many of you, when you think of Santa you think of a white, bearded older man with a jolly laugh.

It is my belief that Santa should represent everything about you. His magic should symbolize your identity. Yet, for centuries having a Santa Claus of color has bothered people.

Why? Because going to sit on Santa’s lap is a very central part of a certain kind of post-war, middle-class white identity. 

black santa figurine decoration sits on a table
Courtesy of Laura Franken

Some people feel those of color threaten their whiteness. Instead of those people saying, ‘There is nothing wrong with being white,’ perhaps it should be rephrased, ‘There is nothing wrong with being black.’ When it comes to the spirit of Christmas and what the spirit of Santa is all about, it should not be about race. It’s not about black or white, it’s about the love you have and the spirit you represent.

Children of color experience racial hardships on a regular basis, and Christmas should be a time when the magic of the season should be represented by a figure who is in their image.

Yes, my (foster) child of color is being raised by a white mother, but that does not take away from my child’s black identity and cultural heritage. It is critical for her to have both her own identity and sense of belonging as a child of color. Why is my house filled with black Santa Clauses? Because I want my child to know that Santa represents all of us and what a beautiful sight of a jolly-good soul.”

foster mom sits with her foster daughter with black santa
Courtesy of Laura Franken

This article was submitted to Love What Matters by Laura Franken. You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.

Read more stories like this:

‘I know this is the right decision because you’re the family I always wanted for myself.’: Foster mom shares beauty and brokenness of adoption

‘She created a series of dolls to give representation to the least represented.’: Mom creates diversity dolls so her daughters can celebrate all differences

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