Thursday, July 17, 2014

Poverty's perduring effects in Baltimore and Other places

http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/11/opinion/alexander-olson-poor-urban-whites/index.html?iid=article_sidebar

Urban poverty, in black and white

By Karl Alexander and Linda Olson
updated 9:20 AM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
Discoveries revealed from a 25-year study in Baltimore may hold truths for other urban areas, such as the South Bronx.
Discoveries revealed from a 25-year study in Baltimore may hold truths for other urban areas, such as the South Bronx.
 
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Authors: "Urban poor" is not just black men, single moms; many whites fit the category
  • For 25 years, authors studied poor children through their adulthood in Baltimore
  • Authors: Hardly any poor children, black or white, went on to finish college
  • They say white privilege won out as they got more and better-paying jobs
Editor's note: Karl Alexander is the academy professor and sociology research professor at Johns Hopkins University. Linda Olson is a research scientist at the Baltimore Education Research Consortium and the Hopkins Center for Social Organization of Schools. They are co-authors, with Doris Entwisle, of the book "The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood," published by the Russell Sage Foundation. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writers.
(CNN) -- Say "urban poor," and the image that most likely comes to mind is one of young black men caught up in a swirl of drugs and violence and irresponsible single women having babies. But this pervasive stereotype overlooks a surprising reality: Many whites live side by side African-Americans in some of the country's poorest urban neighborhoods.
Because white poverty is less expected, less recognized and less studied, we often exclude poor whites from our discussions. That masks a fundamental truth about economic inequality: Poverty is colorblind. But neither is it the same for everyone, as the white poor benefit from a lifetime of the hidden perks of white privilege.
As our nation continues down the road of economic recovery, this is a reality our local and national policymakers cannot afford to ignore as they seek to address employment and income inequality.
We traced the experience of nearly 800 children in Baltimore for more than 25 years, from the time they entered first grade in the fall of 1982 in 20 Baltimore public schools to well into their third decade. Half their families were low income, according to school records, and the typical low-income parent hadn't finished high school. What might be surprising is that of that half, 40% are white.
Karl Alexander
Karl Alexander
Linda Olson
Linda Olson
Looking at where these children started in life and where they ended up, the study results are troubling but clear: At 28, hardly any of the children from a disadvantaged background, black or white, had finished college.
But even without the benefit of a college degree, whites, and white men especially, had vastly better employment outcomes. At every age, the white men experienced shorter spells of unemployment, were more likely to be working full-time and earned more.
Baltimore, like so many other American cities, suffered immensely under the ravages associated with de-industrialization: the loss of industry, population and wealth. Under such circumstances, many of the city's disadvantaged youths stumbled along the way.
But the consequences have been especially dire for African-Americans. As young adults, African-American men had fared much worse than whites in the job market, even though they and their white counterparts had about the same levels of education and the whites reported higher rates of marijuana and heavy drug use and binge drinking.
Take, for example, the types of jobs the men in our study held. At 28, nearly half of the white men who had not attended college were employed in the industrial and construction trades, the highest-paying sector of blue-collar employment. By contrast, only 15% of African-American men worked in these sectors, and even within that small group, annual earnings were less than half that of whites -- $21,500 versus $43,000.
This disparity is no accident.
It fits a broader pattern evident as far back as high school: About one-fifth of white men who grew up in disadvantaged families had after-school and summer jobs in these industries -- important experience that can help secure a full-time job -- while not a single African-American person did.
Indeed, throughout the course of our study, it was clear that African- Americans face greater barriers to employment. Having an arrest record or failing to complete high school were less consequential for white men than for African-American men: 84% of whites without a high school degree were employed at 22; among African Americans, just 40% were.
Racial inequality also is embedded in hidden ways in other spheres of life, including discrimination in housing and banking practices that have kept white and black Baltimore substantially separate and cut off working class African-Americans from potentially valuable social contacts.
Why do differences in employment track so sharply with color lines?
The race-based privilege that benefits working-class whites over working-class African-Americans has its origins in the discriminatory practices that excluded African-Americans from the skilled trades during Baltimore's booming World War II and post-war industrial economy.
Although overt racial discrimination has lessened since then, the deep structural inequalities these barriers helped establish continue today through word-of-mouth hiring, employer attitudes that limit opportunities for African-Americans and segregated social networks.
The differences in how these young people found jobs illustrate the invisible ways race-based privilege is institutionalized in the job market.
When asked at age 22 how they found their current jobs, whites more often mentioned help from family and friends, while more African-Americans found jobs "on their own." The white job seekers in our study had family, friends and neighbors who could help them access good-quality, higher-paying jobs.
And what of those women having babies?
Most of the women of disadvantaged background, white and African-American, became mothers as teenagers, worked sporadically and when working, their employment was concentrated in the low-pay clerical and service sectors.
The difference, though, is that many more white women were married or in a stable co-habiting relationship. An additional earner in the household makes a vast difference in economic well-being, which means that white men's workplace advantages benefit white women as well.
As Americans, we like to think that we are all on a level playing field. Our society treasures rags-to-riches stories of individuals overcoming their humble origins to achieve the American Dream. But, the harsh reality we witnessed in Baltimore is that race and class place severe limitations on a child's ability to achieve that dream.
Too often, our policymakers focus on colorblind solutions, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, to help the urban poor. Such programs only help those who already have jobs and fail to address chronic unemployment among African-Americans.
Amid the growing national conversation on economic inequality, now is the time for our leaders to recognize that race matters and develop creative programs, such as President Barack Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" initiative, to address the different challenges facing poor African-Americans.
Tracking the lives of Baltimore children for 25 years, we witnessed all too clearly how family conditions and poverty early in life cast a shadow that follows children into adulthood and how that shadow extends much further if you are African-American.
Only by facing this reality head on with proactive programs and policies can we offer young African-Americans a fair shot at achieving the American dream.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Church Responds to Immigration Crisis

IMMIGRATION: Inland parishes, Catholic Charities wait for migrants

With flights suspended, it’s unclear whether Inland shelters and other help will be needed
 Church volunteers Araceli Rendon, left, and Faustine Aguayo assemble donated food at St Catherine of Siena Parish in Rialto to benefit recently arrived migrant families on July 10.
DAVID BAUMAN , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER


Catholic Charities and the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino are preparing to shelter and care for additional Central American migrants, but it’s unclear whether more will be arriving.
St. Joseph Catholic Church in Fontana welcomed 46 migrants Thursday, all of whom were gone by Friday. But the U.S. Border Patrol announced Thursday it was suspending flights that sent migrants arrested in Texas to Southern California for processing, so the shelters may no longer be necessary, at least for now.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requested the help of the diocese and Catholic Charities and transferred the migrants from San Diego County to St. Joseph. On Monday, ICE declined to speculate on whether more migrants might be sheltered in the Inland Empire.
“We certainly are prepared to accept more,” said John Andrews, spokesman for the diocese, which includes Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
RELATED: Congress moving to resolve border crisis
Several parishes are ready to house migrants, he said.
One of the back-up sites, in case of an unexpectedly large influx of migrants, is St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Riverside. Volunteers are waiting for the call to help, Deacon John DeGano said.
St. Catherine is one of a number of Inland parishes collecting food, toiletries, first-aid kits, diapers and other items for migrants.
The migrants who arrived Thursday in Fontana were given some of those donations, and a Catholic Charities caseworker made arrangements for family members across the country to meet them at their destinations, said Ken Sawa, CEO of Catholic Charities San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. The migrants were then accompanied to a Greyhound bus station before being sent to live with family.
For migrants who didn’t have the money for bus tickets, Catholic Charities covered the cost using private donations raised specifically to help the migrants, Sawa said.
All the migrants were women with children, he said.
Most of the migrants helped on Thursday were gone by the end of that day. Four families left on Friday, Andrews said
None of the families stayed in the Inland Empire. One was sent to San Francisco; the others traveled to states including New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Colorado, Andrews said.
Protesters picketed St. Joseph on Sunday, saying the Catholic Church should concentrate on helping U.S. citizens rather than foreign migrants. Some of those who protested Sunday have been involved in broader efforts to stop congressional proposals that would provide a path to citizenship for many people who have lived illegally in the United States for an extended period.
But Andrews said the assistance the church is providing should be separated from the political debate over immigration.
“We’re receiving these folks because it’s a crisis situation,” Andrews said. “They have very real human needs we need to attend to. We can get back to the public policy questions later.”
Contact the writer: 951-368-9462 or dolson@pe.com

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First Jesuit University in India

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-india-s-first-jesuit-university-to-set-up-in-odisha-to-start-classes-from-2015-1998855

India's first Jesuit University to set up in Odisha, to start classes from 2015

Monday, 14 July 2014 - 5:33pm IST Updated: Tuesday, 1 July 2014 - 1:18pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA Webdesk

Jesuits, known as the schoolmasters of Europe are ready to make their university debut in India with St Xavier's University in Odisha.
The campus for the same will be ready for classes in December this year and the first batch will be admitted from the next academic year which is 2015-2016. The campus is located near the temple city of Puri, 60 km from Bhubaneshwar.
Jesuits are credited with introducing modern education in India during the 16th century. They manage several colleges but under government universities.
The Xavier University bill was passed in the Odisha assembly after a marathon debate on April 5. "This is the first time that a private university will have a reservation for Odisha students," said Higher Education minister of Odisha, Badri Narayan Patra.
"Odisha is a very important destination of higher education for students. This is an engagement and a commitment," said Fr Paul Fernandes, the brain behind the project. He added that the Jesuits plan to expand the university to other places as well.
The committee plans to introduce one or two programs in every phase beginning with the rural management program. The university will not be limited to teaching only business but will have science and humanities school as well. As for the resources, Fr Fernandes says,"We need resources and we seek support openly from alumni, friends, donors and anyone whoever wants to support our venture."
The vision of the Jesuits with regards to the university is very clear: establish the university, make it innovative and of greater quality.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

UCatholic Has Great Pope-World Cup Memes

Fun Popes and World Cup Memes from UCatholic.
 
http://www.ucatholic.com/blog/the-best-papal-world-cup-memes/

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Friday, July 11, 2014

USCCB Spokesperson Sr. Mary Ann Walsh defends the immigrant children




Birmingham, Vietnam and Murrieta
By Sister Mary Ann Walsh 
http://usccbmedia.blogspot.com/2014/07/birmingham-vietnam-and-murrieta.html?spref=tw

Sometimes a picture says it all. Consider the 1963 picture of fire hoses and snarling police dogs in Birmingham, Alabama, used against African-American students protesting racial segregation. Surely not our civil servants at their best.

Or the 1972 picture of the little girl in North Vietnam running terrified and naked with burning skin after South Vietnamese planes accidentally dropped napalm on Trang Bang, which had been occupied by North Vietnamese troops. The world then saw how war could hurt children.

Now, in 2014, we see citizens of Murrieta, California, turning back buses of women and children headed for a federal processing center, a day after Mayor Alan Long told them to let the government know they opposed its decision to move recent undocumented immigrants to the local Border Patrol station.

The first two images helped turn the tide when they awakened U.S. citizens to a shameful tragedy. We know the aftermath. The Congress 50 years ago passed Civil Rights legislation to guarantee basic human and equal rights for minorities that Civil Rights workers fought (and some died) for. We pulled out of Vietnam, a war we could not win.

We now await a moral conscience moment in the welcoming of children and others escaping the violence in such countries as Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Parents and children from these countries have made the difficult decision to leave their homes and have endured dangerous journeys to cross the U.S.-Mexican border. They risk it because the possible horrors of the treacherous migration, such as trafficking, abuse and even death in the desert, still look better than the almost sure death by gang violence at home.

Some hopes exist already. Contrast the mob in Murrieta, with the people of Brownsville and McAllen, Texas. There Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley offers welcome centers at Sacred Heart Church in McAllen and Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Brownsville. The youngest guest: a one-day-old baby girl. The baby and others are being helped by a host of volunteers.

Heroes are emerging. First might be Sister Norma Pimentel, MJ (Missionaries of Jesus), executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. She is convening the local faith communities to address the problem and organizing the local populace to collect food, medicine, children’s sweaters and hoodies, men’s sneakers, and women’s socks and underwear. The city of McAllen is collaborating by providing portable shower facilities and tents for overnight stays.

Another is Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville. He gets the problem. On his social media blog, he notes: “What we are seeing unfold in front of our eyes is a humanitarian and refuge reality, not an immigration problem.” He adds that “the Church must respond in the best way we can to the human need” and says “at the same time we ask our government to act responsibly to address the reality of migrant refugees. A hemispheric response is needed, not a simple border response. And we ask the government to protect the church’s freedom to serve people.”

Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, spoke before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in late June. He called the number of children crossing the US-Mexico border “a test of the moral character” of our nation. “We must not fail this test,” he said.

Right now, the welcoming community of Brownsville and surrounding communities are acing the test. In Murrieta, the mayor and the citizens who drove back the buses need to study more. President Obama looks for ways to return the children to their perilous homeland. The U.S. Congress sits on its hands. To prepare for the test of moral character, protesters in Murrieta, the President and the Congress, might hit the books, especially the New Testament. A place to start is Matthew 25, where Jesus states: “Whatever you do for these, the least of my brethren, you do also for me.”

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jim Wallis Challenges us to Care for Children

The Moral Failure of Immigration Reform: Are We Really Afraid Of Children?

Did you see the pictures from Tuesday in Murrieta, California? Three buses were full of unaccompanied minors and mothers with children, all fleeing violence in Central America. According to American immigration officials, they were being taken by Homeland Security to a U.S. Border Patrol Station for processing and eventual deportation—after being flown to San Diego from Texas, where they had walked across the U.S. border seeking safety. The buses of children were blocked by adults yelling that they weren’t wanted here in the United States. Big angry white men, holding signs the children couldn’t read, with angry faces screaming at them in a language they didn’t understand—when they were already alone and away from their families and home—would certainly make children feel very afraid. Some of the kids were reportedly as young as six years old.

Two young girls on a bus. Image courtesy Blend Images/shutterstock.com.
Two young girls on a bus.    Image courtesy Blend Images/shutterstock.com.

The town mayor, Alan Long, said the children posed a threat to his community and that he was “proud” of the demonstrators. One hundred-and-fifty protesters waved American flags, chanted “USA! USA!” and shouted to the scared children, "Go home—we don't want you here." Totally blocked from reaching the processing center, the buses turned around and left for another Border Patrol Station, where some of the children were reportedly taken to a hospital for unspecified treatment.  
More than 52,000 unaccompanied children from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras have walked across the U.S. border since last October—some, unfortunately, by way of human trafficking networks though Mexico. Thousands more have come with their parents. The surge has overwhelmed the system and become a very serious humanitarian crisis to which U.S. officials are scrambling to respond. But this is being politicized in Washington.
Incredibly, some Republicans have used this tragic situation as an excuse for why they scuttled immigration reform—when having a smart, fair, and humane immigration system in place would have helped avoid this crisis.
This horrible scene in California reminds me of an interaction during a talk I gave a few months ago on immigration.
It turned out to be the most important immigration talk I’ve given this year—and it was to my son’s fifth grade class. They were studying the subject and invited me to speak about it. First, we went through the long history of immigration in this country. All the children in my son’s class are part of our national history of people who chose to come to America (with the exception of those families forced by the chains of slavery). Next I told the students about our current problem of 11 million undocumented people living in uncertainty and fear for years and even decades, of families being separated, fathers and mothers from torn away from their children, and hardworking and law-abiding people being deported every day.
Looking very surprised, these students asked the obvious question, “Why don’t we fix that? Why doesn’t Congress change the system?”
I answered, “They say they’re afraid.”
The students looked even more confused and asked, “What are they afraid of?”
I paused to consider their honest question and looked around the room—the classroom of a public school fifth grade class in Washington D.C. I looked at their quizzical and concerned faces, a group of African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, Native American, European, African children. Then it hit me.
“They are afraid of you,” I replied.
“Why would they be afraid of us?” the students asked, shocked. I had to tell them.
“They are afraid you are the future of America. They are afraid their country will someday look like this class—that you represent what our nation is becoming.”
This multiracial, multi-cultural, and multi-national group of 11-year-olds now looked more confused than ever.
“They are afraid this won’t work,” I said. “Does it work?”
The children looked at each other, then responded with many voices, saying, “Yeah…Sure…Of course it works…It works great…It’s really cool!”
Together we decided that our job was to show the rest of the country that this new America coming into being is, in fact, really cool.
Our long battle for comprehensive immigration reform was recently officially ended in Congress by Speaker John Boehner. The leader of the Republican House of Representatives told the President that he would not allow a vote for reform to be brought up—even though it is widely believed that a vote to fix this broken system would pass were it to come up in the House and the Senate.
Speaker Boehner and his Republican leaders themselves admit this is only about politics. Most Americans of every political stripe believe the current system is untenable and must be fixed. A large coalition from the faith community, the business community, and law enforcement officials says that reform makes common sense, is good for the economy, is good for national security and public safety, is good for keeping families together—in short, is a moral imperative. But that is being obstructed by a vocal group of white conservative lawmakers who are motivated by political and racial fear and hatred. Many conservative Republicans have more or less admitted that those feelings are very present in the constituencies they represent. And the Republican leadership is unwilling to stand up to their fear of a more diverse American future.
This is political obstruction of the common good, and it is a moral failure. This week, in a meeting with President Barack Obama, faith leaders asked the President to do everything he can, within his Constitutional authority, to “relieve the suffering” of all the families and children who will continue to be devastated. Let me say this very clearly: Those who have morally failed to fix this broken system must dare not now try to prevent executive orders to protect the people we love, who have become part of “us,” and whom Christ asks us to protect. If Republicans continue to ignore and cause the suffering of all “the strangers” among us, they will have to answer to the faith community.

Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His book, The (Un)Common Good: How the Gospel Brings Hope to a World Divided, the updated and revised paperback version of On God’s Side, is available now. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

THE WEEK Cartoon Says it All


http://theweek.com/cartoons/index/264448/editorial-cartoon-lady-liberty

Monday, July 07, 2014

The Truth about INEQUALITY in the USA (from Upworthy.com)


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Saturday, July 05, 2014

Pope Francis not Marxist or Communist. Pope Francis is Catholic.

Pope Francis just expertly trolled his critics
When faced with a McCarthy-esque smear campaign, best to pull a communist switcheroo
Nothing diabolical going on here.
Nothing diabolical going on here. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Since Pope Francis began speaking in public about the Christian view on economic matters, opponents have engaged in what often feels like a McCarthy-era smear campaign, accusing the Pope of things like Marxism, communism, and Leninism.
It was Rush Limbaugh on his radio show that first leveled charges of Marxism after the publication of Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium; he later doubled down on theaccusations:
Pope Francis called today for governments to redistribute wealth to the poor in a new spirit of generosity to help curb the economy of exclusion that is taking hold today…That's Marxism, that's socialism. That's not charity.
Following suit, an Economist blogger diagnosed Pope Francis' recognition of a link between capitalism and violence as Leninism. "Francis may not be offering all the right answers," the piece opines, dripping with patronizing conceit, "or getting the diagnosis exactly right, but he is asking the right questions. Like a little boy who observes the emperor's nakedness."
The pattern is always the same: dismiss Pope Francis, with the greatest respect for his office or the most genteel admiration of his character, by labeling his ministry more political than theological. And the motives attributed to Pope Francis are never neutral; rather, they're mere metonymy, short for larger arguments.
Identifying Pope Francis' theological analyses with the boogeymen political ideologies of yesteryear denies, however implicitly, that what he is doing is strictly Christian. This is accomplished by conflating what is religious with what is secular, and in part through selecting ideologies that have been defamed in American culture for their anti-Christian tendencies.
It will likely never matter to these critics that Pope Francis himself has emphatically denied any association with Marxism or Marxist ideology. And so in a recent interview, he took another tack: Rather than making another attempt to roundly decry a set of ideologies no one seriously suspects him of adhering to, Pope Francis turned the criticisms around on the critics:
"I can only say that the communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian. Poverty is at the center of the Gospel," he said, citing Biblical passages about the need to help the poor, the sick and the needy. "Communists say that all this is communism. Sure, twenty centuries later. So when they speak, one can say to them: 'but then you are Christian'." [Pope Francis, via Reuters]
In other words, since his concern for the poor causes critics to accuse him of Marxism, Pope Francis reversed their accusations: rather than Christianity looking suspiciously communist over its concern for the poor, perhaps communism looks suspiciously Christian. After all, justice for the poor is hardly a communist invention; as Pope Francis points out, a focus on helping the poor was native to Christianity long before the 19th century.
But Pope Francis' reversal has another effect: namely, it calls into question why our political narratives immediately categorize any demand for justice for the poor as anti-Christian communism. In fact, it would seem rather impossible to practice any legitimate form of Christianitywithout seeking justice for the poor. If we immediately identify support for impoverished people as evidence of some anti-Christian impulse, then we've built up a political narrative that can't sustain the truth about Christianity.
For that reason, Pope Francis' refusal to capitulate to how political types would like to contain the radical power of Christianity is especially valuable, and especially irksome. For as long as he's unwilling to contain his Christianity to the realms it's politically welcome in — say, legislation related to sex and reproduction — it will be too vast and too revolutionary for his critics, who will fail to see it as Christian at all, and will continue bandying about accusations of communism, Marxism, and so forth.
But it's hard to imagine those kinds of attacks will ever do much to harm Pope Francis or his message, given that his refusal to pay heed to secular political categories offers a broader range of political thought than his critics' tribal views. Pope Francis puts Christian ethics first, rather than trying to see where Christian ethics will fit in a given political ideology. It's for this reason he can say that communism has stolen the flag of Christianity, and it's his fundamental grounding in faith that will ultimately make his message so powerful.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Trout Season Opens Saturday April12, 2014

It's been a long winter, but Spring springs 
and trout season starts Saturday.

Monday, January 06, 2014

The Work of Christmas Begins by Dr. Howard Thurman


The Work of Christmas Begins

     When the song of the angels is stilled,
     When the star in the sky is gone,
     When the kings and princes are home,
     When the shepherds are back with their flock,
     The work of Christmas begins:

       To find the lost,
     To heal the broken,
     To feed the hungry,
     To release the prisoner,
     To rebuild the nations,
     To bring peace among brothers,
     To make music in the heart.

Dr. Howard Thurman was an influential author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader. He was Dean of Theology and the chapels at Howard University and Boston University for more than two decades, wrote 20 books, and in 1944 helped found the first racially integrated, multicultural church in the United States.


Every Kid Knows Santa's Color




Every Kid knows Santa’s Color 

By Six year old “Little Leo”
as told to
               Richard G. Malloy, S.J. 
Kevin famously said in Home Alone II, “You can mess with a lot of things, but you can’t mess with kids on Christmas.”  So when an anchor at Fox News (whatever that is), said “Santa is White,” I thought, like Kevin, “I don’t think so.”  She should have asked a six year old like me, Leo. Well, everyone calls me Little Leo.
Look, all us kids know Santa’s color.  It’s Candy Cane.  Red cheeks?  On ruddy skin, mostly covered in beard?  You know, Santa, chief of the elves and lives in the magical village somewhere at the North Pole.  My Dad says Mrs. Claus is always telling him what to do.  If he goes outside, Santa’s color is mostly blue, because it’s a gazillion degrees below zero up there.  If the elves hit the eggnog too hard and don’t get the toys made on schedule, Santa’s facial color is mostly red.  For a while he was brown because he loves the Cleveland football team, and then purple when he jumped on the Baltimore wagon for their miracle run last year.  But mostly he’s green because he’s originally from Philadelphia and is really an Eagles fan.  So, Yo Santa, when we gettin’ a Super Bowl championship in Philly? 
You get it?  He’s Santa.  He can be any color he wants.
As Kevin showed in the first Home Alone, we kids know how it works.  There’s a lot of guys dressed up in Santa suits out there.  They can be any kind of people, and I’ve seen them all: fat, skinny, old, young, smart (those ones never tell you you’re getting what you ask for.  They say they’ll check with your parents first) and some are a few light bulbs short of a fully decorated tree (they promise you’ll get everything you ask for, but never deliver).  I go to lots of toy stores, especially before Christmas.  You see, each of these Santas down here listen to kids and then get the messages back to the real Santa up at the North Pole. 
The real Santa, he’s the guy like Tim Allen in The Santa ClausE, who puts on the real red suit and turns into the candy cane colored, humungous, guy who gives toys to all the good little girls and boys.  Lucky for me, Santa’s an easy grader.  What ethnicity or color is he?  Who cares!  We kids just want toys.  And my Mom says we have to share some of our toys with other kids, so we always take some gifts to the Salvation Army before Christmas.  And we’re happy that Santa’s such a Communist or Socialist (whatever those words mean.  My Dad told me to put them in).  We know that all the little kids get toys at Christmas.  How cool is that?  Wouldn’t it be great if real grownups thought like that?  All kids getting what they need, just ‘cause they’re kids!  Doesn’t matter what shape or size, country or color.  Santa serves all kids, all kinds, everywhere.
It would be a world like Bedford Falls in It’s a Wonderful Life.  The George Baileys would get to make the ways the world ought to be.  The Mr. Potters would be watching Fox News all day and night, sitting there scowling and mad like the Grinch, unhappy because everyone in Whoville had a house with a few rooms and a bath.  No one living in Pottersville.  That would be great.  My Dad makes us watch that movie every Christmas Eve before we go to Midnight Mass at eight o’clock at our parish.  My big sister, she’s thirteen, she says the movie is boring, but she says everything is boring.  I love it when Clarence, and then George, jumps in the icy water and, at the end, when the angels get their wings.
At Mass, my Mom says we’ll hear about something our new Pope, Pope Francis, wrote, The Joy of the Gospel.  Dad says Fox News gets it wrong.  Fox says the Pope’s against capitalism (whatever that is).  Actually, the Pope is for everybody and love and peace and justice.  Fr. Rick, who is writing this all down for me, says I should tell the people what the Pope said.
“Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless.    I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, #2-3).
Joy!  Cool.  As Linus said, “That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown!”  And Christmas and Jesus and Santa are for everybody, anyone who ever lived.  It’s like birthday parties.  Everyone gets invited.  Bishop Harry Flynn learned that when he didn’t want to invite an African American girl to his sixth birthday party.  His Mom told him, “Fine.  But you don’t invite her, you don’t have a birthday party.”  
Bishop Flynn writes, “I still have a vivid memory of that birthday party and of my mother warmly greeting the young African American girl as she came up the sidewalk to attend the party. That single act made a very deep impression on me” (Flynn 2003).”  Duh! How dumb was that, not wanting to invite that little girl to his party.  Archbishop Flynn learned his lesson and now he teaches us:
“Racism takes many forms, but at its core it is a personal and social disorder rooted in the assumption that one race is superior to another.    I believe that two broad types of racism need to be recognized and resisted: individual and institutional. Individual racism is evident when a person adopts attitudes or takes actions that are based on the assumption of racial superiority. Such attitudes and actions violate the rights and dignity of other people because of race.  A second type of racism is institutional or structural. This type of racism exists where patterns of racial superiority are embedded in the systems and institutions of society. Such racism is less blatant and more complex, but it exists nonetheless. It is present wherever systems and institutions are created and maintained in such a way that they provide privilege or prejudice for one race over others. This type of racism can be seen, to varying degrees, in many of our social, economic, and political structures, including the structures of our Church.” (Flynn 2003)
Hey, it’s me again, Little Leo.  All I say is, it’s time to root out racism, in our hearts, our lives, and all the insti… insta… insti… That’s a big word….  Root it out in all the places it exists.  Most importantly, let’s take racism out of Christmas.
Oh, you ask what color I am?  I’m six. 

References
Flynn, Archbishop Harry.  2003.  “In God’s Image: Pastoral Letter on Racism.”  Archdiocese of St. Paul Minneapolis.  http://www.archspm.org/reference/pastoral-letters-detail.php?intResourceID=158).