Indiana University has many of its students, faculty and members of the community upset after their failed attempt to create healthy dialogue about stereotypes and racism — instead they got the direct opposite. A billboard in one of the university’s dormitories featured a black man dressed as Santa Claus while belting notes from a saxophone, and around him — follow-up questions to the main question, “Can Santa Claus be a black man?”. Many agree it wasn’t the main question that caused heated debate and outrage — what sent students to social media in anger and disgust were the racially charged follow-up questions.
Students say the problem wasn’t so much about the question “Can Santa be a black man?,” but the follow-up questions shown on stockings below, including, “Would he only visit the ghetto?,” “Would you let him come down your chimney?” and “Wouldn’t all the presents be stolen?”
“I was completely appalled with it,” said IU freshman Alexus Johnson.
“It really hit home for a lot of students and it really hurt a lot of students,” added IU senior Leighton Johnson. “They’re just angry about this poster being up.”
Within two hours of images of the billboard hitting social media, and concern from the community, school administrators ordered the display be removed.