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In our so-called post-racial America after the historic election of President Barack Obama, racial dysfunction continues to creep into the nation’s public school classrooms.Get this: A white New Mexico high school teacher recently told a black student that he shouldn’t dress up like Santa Claus because Santa Claus is white.
Yes, you read it right.
Students at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, just north of Albuquerque, were told last week they could dress up as holiday characters. But when Christopher Rougier, an African American ninth grader, showed up dressed as Santa Claus, he was called out by his teacher. “Christopher, don’t you know Santa Claus is white? Why are you wearing that?” the student’s father, Michael Rougier, told local television station KOB, describing the teacher’s remarks.
The teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave, but Rougier’s father, Michael, said his son was embarrassed by the incident. And because Christopher is autistic, Rougier says, his son was extremely disturbed by the teacher’s racially-inflammatory comments. “I don’t think he needs to be teaching our kids,” Michael Rougier said.
Well said. The episode at the New Mexico school came just days after a Fox News anchor proclaimed on the air that Santa Claus was white. “And by the way, for all of you kids watching at home, Santa just is white, but this person is just arguing maybe we should also have a black Santa,” Fox anchor Megyn Kelly said. “But, you know, Santa is what he is.”
Kelly back-pedaled under pressure from management at Fox News and claimed her comments were “tongue-in-cheek” and said the controversy was a result of “race-baiting” by critics. However, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who defended Kelly, said her comments were not about race. “The spirit of Santa transcends all racial boundaries,” he said.
Ridiculous. If the spirit of Santa Claus transcends all racial boundaries, then why didn’t Kelly say Santa was bi-racial? Or multi-ethnic? Kelly was specific: She said Santa was “white.” That doesn’t sound like transcending any racial boundaries to me. And what would O’Reilly say if told Santa was black? Meanwhile, in New Mexico, a school official released a statement saying the teacher made a dumb blunder – but made no mention of race.
“This situation involves a teacher recently hired by Cleveland High who made – and admits he made – a stupid mistake. The remark was inappropriate and should not have been made,” said Kim Vesely, Director of Parent, Community, and Staff Engagement for Rio Rancho Public Schools.
But Rougier said he’s tired of racial insensitivity in the classroom. “If it’s not for parents like me in interracial families to stand up and say it’s time to stop this, it’s time to stop,” Rougier said. “I have to fight for my boys.”