ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — 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.”
School district offices were not yet open early Monday morning, and spokeswoman Kim Vesely did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
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 of 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 “Santa is what he is.”
“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,” she said.
“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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