What If Your Santa Ain't Pink?

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Happy holidays, all! By the time you read this, you will probably have consumed your turkey, goose or ham (Some latkes maybe? Peas and rice? ); opened your gifts (and we hope you got some nice ones); and are looking ahead to... well, what are you looking ahead to? For some of you, at this point it's all about New Year's. For others, maybe you're still in the middle of Kwanzaa or you're going to observe Epiphany, the Feast of the Three Kings.

The point is that a multicultural society like ours offers a feast of opportunities to celebrate and worship. But it can also get complicated. The traditions of Christmas, as practiced in North America, draw heavily on imagery shaped by northern Europe: the pink-cheeked Santa and all that snow, snow, snow! It's a problem for some of us to see ourselves in the story. And Kwanzaa can be a dilemma, too: Does it add to Christmas or detract from Christmas?

You may find yourself thinking about these things when you're on your own, but for most of us, what and how to celebrate doesn't really become an issue until we decide to share our lives with someone else, especially when we have children. So we decided to ask some savvy multicultural moms how they navigate the cultural minefield of holiday time. We hope to offer this kind of practical, accessible talk about real issues as a regular feature of our program.

Our working title for this segment is "Mocha Moms" — and no, we weren't clever enough to come up with that one. Mocha Moms is a national organization founded by stay-at-home moms of color, but open to all. I stumbled across the group a couple of years ago when I interviewed some of their chapter members for a story for ABC News Nightline. When we started developing this program, my colleague Marie Nelson had the idea of building a segment around members of the group, which was founded here in the D.C. area.

We liked their common sense, chemistry and energy, and we hope you do, too. Please listen (audio) and take a minute to tell us what you think about the segment. What about the topics? If this were a call-in show, is this the type of segment that would move you to call or write in? What if you knew about it in advance from our blog? Would you make more of an effort to participate in the conversation?

On a side note, a husband of one of our Mocha Moms just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq. That reminds me to take a moment to thank all of you who are spending your holidays abroad, whether in the military, Peace Corps or Foreign Service. Thank you for your service and sacrifice, and that of your families. And thanks also to those of you who are spending the holidays working here at home — in squad cars, firehouses, newsrooms, fixing utility lines, serving food or taking care of the sick. Whatever you do, we appreciate it, even if we don't always take the time to say so. So thank you and happy new year to all! We're gone for the holiday but will be back next week to respond to posts.

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I like the concept of Mocha Moms, since Iam a mother of African descent. I felt as though the topics discussed around Christmas & Kwanzaa in the 12/28 posting of "What If Your Santa Aint Pink" segment were definitely relevant to issues that are of concern to me and my family. Certainly, I could appreciate the comments from the guests, although I felt as though there was some ignorance in general about the Kwanzaa holiday. In other words, since none of the guests actually "celebrated" Kwanzaa (although they may have some appreciation for it), there was not a balanced enough perspective to defend the cultural significance of its values & its role in instilling more positive images for people of African descent.

Given that the moms represented expressed that it was important to them to counter the effects of a racist society in the images they allowed in their homes and bought for their children, I thought it was interesting that a holiday created by a Black man and focused on positive principles based on traditional African values did not have a strong proponent among your guests. In other words, here is a celebration that exerts a countering force in a society that continues to beat down on Black folks - in various conspicuous and many obscure ways - and has as its goal to surround our children not only with positive images, but the positive values that accompany & support those images, and I felt as though none of your guests could adequately speak to its virtues.

If this were a call-in show, I think it would generate discussion (especially around those dreaded Disney princesses!! -) However, based on observations mentioned above, I would suggest a follow-up segment that would provide the opportunity to air a more knowledgeable & positive discussion around Kwanzaa.

Keep up the good work! I hope you plan to include voices of other "mocha moms," not just those from the featured organization that participated in the discussion from the 12/28 segment (although it may mean that you would have to change the title of the segment). I also would hope that the show will generate enough interest such that member stations will be willing to air it during hours when people will be more likely to tune in...

Sent by Donna | 12:40 PM | 1-2-2007

Hi, Michel, I enjoyed listening to the Rough Cuts. Thanks for doing a show to showcase culture and traditions that arent highlighted much in the media. I hope your show will be on at a time I can hear it, but then again, I can always download it! Happy New Year from Tucson, Arizona!

Sent by Patricia Rendon | 12:51 PM | 1-2-2007

Mocha Moms were indeed filled with common sense, energy and a nice chemistry. It sounded like they were all a variety of Christians, though. I was hoping to hear a moch stay at home voice that wasnt Christian.

Please consider interviewing Anne Harris, a musician/artist/mom in Chicago. www.anneharris.com

Sent by Barbara McBride | 12:59 PM | 1-2-2007

Santa is white not because people are trying to exclude other people he came from Europe. This idea that Santa is bad if he is white bothers me as much as people who insist that Jesus was white.

Sent by Melissa J. | 1:04 PM | 1-2-2007

I really enjoyed this segment-- it goes deeper than the sugar-coated, commercially-viable holiday coverage we typically get from the media (including NPR).

The discussion about the dolls reminds me of the story my mother told me about my own childhood. When I was probably 2 years old, my mother gave me a black baby doll. My grandparents had a fit! She did it to piss them off and to expose me to something other than a blond-haired, blue-eyed white doll. It is a tiny way that she tried to expand my horizons.

We need more stories that focus on African Americans and race relations in America. One of my friends is from South Africa. She is so surprised how Americans don't discuss race-- and how racism is so blatant and at the same time so insidious in our society. Of course, she grew up in a country that had the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that brought race relations to the forefront in the aftermath of Apartheid. I agree with her-- but I often feel awkward about expressing such views for fear that people will suspect that I'm trying to be a "politically-correct" white person. I would call in-- I think we need more opportunities to have these kind of discussions in an open forum that isn't driven by screaming pundits or shock value.

Sent by Sarah McClary | 1:13 PM | 1-2-2007

The issue is not so much that I am of Northern European descent but more that American commercialism has stolen the Christmas season. Most Americans do not know or celebrate the Christmas season as the twelve days that FOLLOW December 25th. Most people have unwrapped all the presents and thrown away the tree by Dec 26th (St. Stephen Day). I have never appreciated that the black community has further buried Christmas with Kwanza but still like to claim their Christian heritage.

Sent by Stewart Hughes | 1:16 PM | 1-2-2007

When the second interviewee in the segment mentioned that she didn't want a white santa providing for her children when a black santa could, it would have been interesting to have her probed about her feelings and interesting to see how the other mothers reacted. It was the only time during the segment wherein my mind went political or socio-political and I briefly stopped listening to her.

On a production note, to stand out from other talk/news based programs, you could produce some of these segments like This American Life, in a more creative non-fiction style (with music and outside source material like man on the street responses to white vs. other santas tracks intercut).

I would have some segments be open to call-ins and others not, so you could add the extra production to some segments to liberate the structure and the feel.

Sent by Andrew Hart | 1:20 PM | 1-2-2007

I'm a white mom of one, and I enjoyed this segment very much because I'm struggling with the Christmas issue myself. I'm planning to borrow one of the ideas your mom offered, the saving money over the year - cool!

I would really love to have one thing added to this show, and maybe not every time - a dialog with a white mom and your Mocha Moms. Would it be okay for ME to have a black Santa, or is that patronizing? I sent out Christmas cards this year with a black angel on our return address sticker - will that offend my black friends, or will they see it for what I meant it, my own desire to see diversity so my white son with blue eyes can learn that his world is not just one color? So at some point, a call-in or having a white person on to dialog would be great - give ME a call, Ill do it!)

Sent by Sarah Pressly-James | 1:28 PM | 1-2-2007

Please explain the working premise of this show. What will distinguish it from other NPR programming? Who is the target demographic?

I listened to the segment wherein black mothers discussed holiday celebration(s). While I enjoy diverging points of view, I doubt many Caucasian people will become engaged in this conversation. I sensed some anger when some women spoke. Rather than allow guests to emphasize sociocultural differences (its too easy) attention must be paid to solutions and substantive matters. I realize some of the women brought forth their personal solutions to the perceived Christmas/racial issues, however not enough time was allotted for a real conversation rather than a kitchen table one. The host ought to consider taking guest comments and adding context to them making the conversation relevant to the widest group of listeners.

Having said all this, then, my final thoughts are: This segment is okay in two contexts:

1. A show focused on the black experience 2. A show focused on the experience of all people wherein this is one segment among many.

Sent by Greg Schano | 2:23 PM | 1-2-2007

Dear Michel,

I am a big fan of NPR. I listened through the Christmas topic among the Mocha Moms. Being a single mom, I did appreciate what the women were saying. My 7 yr old son tells me he is not Hindu but Christian because he wants to celebrate Christmas like his friends! This program seems to be a great interactive medium and I would like to participate in some way if I can.

Currently, I live in Boynton Beach, FL. I am an Indian immigrant and have lived in the US for the last 10 years. I grew up and did my schooling in India and followed my ex-husband to the US. I have a post graduate degree and work in the field of corporate finance. Judging from the popularity of NPR among Indian and Asian immigrants, I would have thought there would be greater representation from our community in the different forums. I do not know if this is because we think the issues they face are not worthy of being aired or we do not have the talent/ energy to voice it or both.

I do have some thoughts that I want to share, especially --The culture shock that I faced as an immigrant --Adjusting to a minority status in the US --The emergence of strong bonds and disappearance of sectarian politics (Hindu vs. Muslims, Sunnis vs. Shiites, Indians vs. Pakistanis) --Stigma of Divorce (among my community people) --New beginnings after one --How I fight stereotypes everyday (my thinking does not have an accent, mine is not an arranged marriage, not all of us are rude and loud talkers, it is not an anomaly for me to be a single mom, I didn?t learn English after coming to the US, not all the people of my country are poor, not all of us are super intelligent in Math and Science, etc)

I realize these topics may not sound relevant or much to the majority but these are quiet battles that each of us immigrants fight everyday. I am quite enthusiastic about joining any discussion that you may have in the future on the above topics.

Thank you

Yours Sincerely,

Sent by Shilpa Shenoy | 2:32 PM | 1-2-2007

Interesting concept for a show. Even with the needs of a diverse audience, I am not sure that this specific segment would cause me or people sharing my demographic to call in. While I am an African- American female, I am 40, single without children. (There are lots of us out there.) I did not connect with your guests. I would have been more engaged with more diverse guests. You could potentially have the same discussion about Christmas and include mothers that were possibly Asian, native Alaskan or Hawaiian, a Muslim, Buddhist, and a Jewish mom who is a racial minority. How do they deal with the Christmas holiday and their cultural traditions? How do they grapple with Santa, Elves, receiving and giving gifts? Or even how does someone single of the above mentioned groups deal with office parties and gift exchange for a holiday for which they do not observe?

I think that the Mocha Moms should be addressed in a separate segment - one that shows listeners that there are African-American families that can afford to have a mom stay at home. The guests could address some of the challenges of our families experience today. The difficulty in finding a nanny that will work for an African American family and/or the prohibitive cost of child care is a great place to start. Lots of people have no idea what Kwanzaa is, including African Americans -so that is quite possibly a show on its own.

Best of luck with the show. I am an NPR junkie - it is on 24 - 7. But I am also aware of "other" programming and how certain shows are not aired in certain markets - hence I use my Sirius radio most of the time. It would be unfortunate if your show was only heard in the DC area.

Sent by Sylvia | 2:47 PM | 1-2-2007

This is an interesting interview. I, as a Caucasian, found it interesting to hear about how African Americans feel about celebrating various ethnic holidays that coincide with Christmas time.

If this was a call-in segment, I would call in to ask the panelist how they feel about the commercialization of the holiday season. Why does Christmas have so much commercial appeal while other holidays like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa remain on the fringe? Would Jews or African Americans appreciate it if their ethnic celebrations were commercialized like the paganized Christian holiday that is Christmas?

Sent by Steve | 2:56 PM | 1-2-2007

Michel, I am glad you found us at NPR. Just listened through my first instance of Rough Cuts about Santa and had a different bent to the input. First, I hail from Nigeria, a former British colony where we dignify Santa by the name Father Christmas. Even though the image we had of him was white, we did not have enough pot-bellied white males around to perform his daunting chore, hence it was typically done by black males in the more metropolitan areas. No, he did not do reindeer rides or chimneys - way too hot to need a fireplace. The season called for gift-giving alright, but much of it comprised of buying new sets of church clothing for the family, assuring that they, and whoever else that shows up typically uninvited are well fed. A lot of unplanned token cash gifts also change hands on that day, not dependent on Santa or Fedex to deliver. The altruism tended to address basic necessities. The Christmas day itself is usually not spent indoor roasting marshmallows or mistletoes, instead, everyone, (Christians, medicine men and atheists alike) empties out in the streets partly showing off their new and colorful garbs and mostly being entertained by masquerades gyrating to fervent drumbeats, a throwback to our harvest festivities before Christianity arrived on our shores.

Sent by KC Kanu | 4:03 PM | 1-2-2007

My wife would listen but I don't think I would want to hear much more on the issue.

Sent by KD | 4:08 PM | 1-2-2007

I listened to your podcast today with the Mocha Moms. My only dislike about the program was that it was stated by a guest that Saint Nick didnt exist. I would wish that you would pass this information on Saint Nick along to your guests and perhaps to your audience on a future show: The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships. Thank you.

Sent by Angel Banker | 4:13 PM | 1-2-2007

Today, I listened to Talk of the Nation, where I heard references to this program. Since I am attracted to collaboration, I visited the website, and listened to the program Rough Cuts.

I am left with appreciation, especially for the comments of Shelly English-Figaro. She helped me to consider the difficulties people people of all races (except of course, white) must face in feeling close at all to Santa Claus, and the whole Christmas tradition based around him.

My personal feelings about Christmas are offended by Santa Claus and the gift-fest of which he is the central figure. I prefer to have a holiday that celebrates and reflects upon the holy teachings, in this case, those of Jesus.

My hope is that the religious holidays of all faiths could continue, or resume, without commercial interference. We could all discover, in considering the religious impulses that founded these celebrations, our similarities that go so far beyond race.

I thank Rough Cuts for sharing the thought and feeling of these first guests on subjects that may well lead to much collaborative input. In that spirit of inviting collaboration, I hope to see Rough Cuts inspire less concentration on those thing that separate us, and more on ideas that we all have in common. The differences are things that separate us. To discover our samenesses is liberating and joyful. Thanks and best wishes.

Sent by Mark | 9:10 AM | 1-3-2007

Michel, I loved your segments about Christmas -- the interviews with the Mocha Moms and the piece on music. The Mocha Moms reminded me of a generational divide. When I was growing up in Texas in the late 40s and early 50, we never wondered about why Santa Claus was white: virtually everybody important was white back then. Also, we knew that black people didn't live at the North Pole. I was impressed by how thoughtful, witty and comfortable the young (in their 30s, I suppose) mothers were -- perhaps a tribute to your ability to engage people without making them feel self-conscious. Your interview about Christmas music was fun, evocative, and very well produced -- great fade-ins. You've set a very high standard for yourself and created very high expectations among your audience.

Great work!

Sent by Edwin Dorn | 9:42 AM | 1-3-2007

As I already do whatever is necessary to avoid Christmas, I wouldn't listen. I also tune out shows which exacerbate the difference between peoples, which this show belabors.

Sent by Ken | 10:00 AM | 1-3-2007

As with many of the others who posted so far today, I first heard of this experiment during the TOTN segment this afternoon. It sounded fascinating, so I jumped over here and downloaded the podcasts as soon as we put our daughter to bed this evening. I'm not sure how well my take on the shows going to go over, but here goes...

First, I should mention that I'm a 30-something agnostic white male, so it seemed that, outside of parenthood, I had little in common with your guests. Though I listened to the entire show, I couldn't help but feel alienated by some of their comments. Ironic, considering that many of the problems they described seemed to come from their personal experiences being marginalized by society and their desire to make the season more inclusive to their children.

Second, I felt that Michel should have called one of her guests on her borderline racist comments. I couldn?t find a transcript (which would be a nice edition to the show, by the way), but I believe it was Aisha who started the tirade about never wanting her kids to think that a white man could possibly help them. Her emphasis every time she said the word ?white? in those sentences made it pretty easy to get her real meaning. Her idea that Santa?s Latino, Asian, etc. for each family (an idea I thought was brilliant) helped soften the blow, but not until after she let her apparent racism rear its head.

My problem isn?t that she wanted a black Santa for her children, but rather the venomous tone she used to describe her contempt for the white Santa concept. If the idea is to make everyone feel welcome, why is it necessary completely exclude the white symbols? Why not use some sort of mixture of them? Black and white Santas, and angels, etc.? Though her stated goal was noble, I worry that she?s encouraging the outcast feelings by creating ?our Santa? and ?their Santa.?

I felt the show was too one-sided. I really don?t want to listen to a show in which all the guests agree and all have the same opinion. And if that opinion happens to already coincide with the one I started with, I?m not gaining anything by listening. Today, at least, I learned something from your guests because of our vastly different backgrounds and experiences, but what if this had been a show filled with 32-year-old agnostic white men in the Pacific Northwest? I would have deleted the podcast two minutes into it and never looked back.

One piece of constructive criticism for Michel? I touched on this briefly above, but I?d like to see you play Devil?s advocate a bit more while speaking with your guests. One of the things I love most about TOTN is Neal Conan?s interviewing style and the fact that he often calls his guests on their various opinions, regardless of whether or not he agrees with them. Wouldn?t be a bad idea to steal a play or two from his book. Even if you do share your guests? beliefs, I think you do them a disservice by not challenging them. If they?re worth a damn, they?ll hold up under pressure and likely seem stronger for it.

Wow? I just reread some of this and realized that it all sounded very, very negative. Didn?t mean that at all. Even the feeling disenfranchised part at least made me think a little about myself and my own beliefs, and that?s absolutely a good thing. I liked the topic and liked hearing more of the opinions, too, but, again, missed not having an opposing point of view. And I definitely don?t think you?d have to worry about a lack of calls (unless you aired at 3:30 am? in that case, you?re pretty much screwed).

Good luck with the show. I?ll be listening.

Sent by Justin Stanley | 10:21 AM | 1-3-2007

Michel,

I love the idea of the Mocha Moms segment. I am also glad to see the blog and look forward to the show airing. I have been keeping up with you for a while. And, have been awaiting the show.

I wanted to make you aware of my blog and upcoming magazine, Being Family Magazine, the premiere African American parenting and family lifestyle magazine. "Mocha Momming" is this very idea that is fueling my endeavor. We are doing and doing it well (in the words of LL Cool J) and I want to let the world know through the pages of my magazine.

I have launched the magazine via blog www.beingfamilymagazine.blogspot as I work toward my moving target of a launch date for print.

So look for plenty of great Mocha Moms topics to be explored via the blog. I would also love the opportunity explore some topics on your show.

Good luck to both of us.

I look forward to continued greatness from you!

Sent by Rochelle Valsaint | 10:32 AM | 1-3-2007

Kwanzaa, mocha moms didn't hit the mark for me. MWM, 30s. Not really interesting. Try again.

Sent by Kristopher Wieland | 11:14 AM | 1-3-2007

I have always found the materialism present at Christmas rather disturbing. And have never understood the connection between Christs birth and 100s of present under and tree acquired at great financial expense and physical exhaustion. However this discussion was very refreshing. Frank and funny and intelligent. Perspectives from women of color benefits us all. Thank you, NPR and thank you, Michele

Sent by Neeta Dave | 3:55 PM | 1-3-2007

I enjoyed this segment. I am Jewish and hadn't really thought about what African Americans thought about xmas. Hannukah doesn't have images of people associated with it or other holidays so I had not considered the implications other holidays had.

Sent by Jessica Wexler | 4:03 PM | 1-3-2007

I'm a white Mainer who would like to express his interest in the show. Your two pre Christmas shows were great, I don't have any African American friends and love the insight into a culture that is very under represented in Maine. Thanks

Sent by Aaron Svedlow | 4:09 PM | 1-3-2007

This was an awesome segment. I live in a small town without much diversity, and interviews like this are helpful to my understanding of others.

Sent by Lin Gorman | 4:25 PM | 1-3-2007

I think this episode suffered from a divide between the expertise of the guests and the topic. I would really be interested in hearing about what the Mocha Moms know as ?experts,? meaning their experiences as full-time moms and as a primarily ethnic group. I?m not fond of man on the street interviews, so their thoughts on holiday observances didn?t enthrall me (although I will say they brought up some interesting issues).

I would happily listen to a series of episodes focused on variations in celebrating Christmas (some of which were discussed in this episode): Do you tell your children Santa exists? Do you celebrate Christmas even though you are Jewish, agnostic, etc (religious vs. secularized holiday)? Do you tailor the holiday to your ethnicity? Do Christians around the world celebrate the holiday the same way? etc.

Sent by Holly | 10:13 AM | 1-4-2007

Since you asked that people write in I thought I would tell you what I thought about the segment "Mocha Moms".

I should give you a little background on me so you will know where I am coming from on this issue.

I grew up Unitarian Universalist, an all inclusive religion, with an atheist Humanist minister for a father. Now, I live in Japan.

Growing up my family celebrated Christmas, which seemed strange to me since my father who had grown up fundamentalist christian was so critical of religion. The holiday always seemed to be more about shopping than anything else to me, so 3 years ago I stopped celebrating it.

When I tell people that I am not Christian and so I dont celebrate Christmas they often tell me it is not about religion anymore and give me a hard time. I usually point out that if I were newish no one would say that to me. It hurts a little.

Well, this year was a little different for a couple reasons. In Japan the celebration of Christmas continues to become bigger and bigger and like my American friends my Japanese friends say that it has nothing to do with religion.

One interesting aspect of Christmas in Japan is since it does not have the same connotations Christmas is treated in a much looser way. For example, people do not say "Happy Holidays" because their is no idea of being respectful of other peoples traditions. Also, people do not understand English well so any Christmas song is OK anywhere. Not like in the states where there is a place for certain songs at certain times. This is all background really.

So, what I realized was different this year is that I was depriving myself of tradition and community by not participating in Christmas. I am not saying that want to celebrate christmas now, but just that was what I was losing.

So, I was in this frame of mind when I was listening to an interview with Ron Karenga on The Tavis Smiley Show.

When I was listening to Ron Karenga speaking I was really interested in the idea of Kwanzaa and why he invented the tradition. In a lot of ways I felt like Kwanzaa was born out of many feelings that I have about my culture and Christmas. I felt sad for not knowing more about it and not giving it the legitimacy that I give to Christmas.

Since I am not African-American I dont know how appropriate it would be for me to celebrate the holiday, much in the same way I feel about Christmas. But it did make me think, like Ron Karenga did in making Kwanzaa, that I dont want to just not participate in Christmas, but I want to make a future and a custom that I can be apart of, that anyone can.

I am no leader or teacher like Ron Karenga but I would like to make a tradition like his that is inclusive of all customs and and interpretations, like Unitarian Universalism does for religion.

Listing to your piece today I was reminded of all this. And I have written much more than I intended to but there were a couple things that I found myself thinking about after listening.

I guess the main thing was how the women on the show changed the way they celebrated Christmas to fit their lives. I thought that was awesome. At the same time I felt a little sad about what they thought about Kwanzaa, that they were too tired after Christmas to really celebrate the holiday. That they realized that Christmas excluded them in a way but that they didn't realize that that was the same reason why Kwanzaa was invented. And for many broader reasons of course.

You said at one point, "are you anti-Kwanzaa?" and I don't mean to disrespect your belief in Christmas but just ask what makes Christmas more legitimate than Kwanzaa? I realize that you are interviewing people and you are asking their opinion and not stating your own though.

You also said that "Kwanzaa is exclusive rather than inclusive like Christmas" but for me, even though I may not be included in the tradition of Kwanzaa I feel like it is more inclusive than Christmas because I don't believe that Jesus is my lord and savior or that I will go to hell or that sin exists.

I realize that my beliefs are not mainstream and maybe hard for people to understand but like the woman who thought that the white santa wasn't for her Christmas isn't for me.

You caught my interest in the beginning when you said "How do you include Christmas traditions when those traditions don't include you?" and "To Kwanzaa or not to Kwanzaa?"

You said "we want to avoid the predictable. We plan to showcase diverse new voices" and I like what you are doing so I wanted to say, take risks, don't be afraid to create some real discussions.

Thank you for listening and good luck with the show.

Sent by Brett Peary | 10:24 AM | 1-4-2007

Just a word of appreciation for your segment on "Mocha Moms". I myself am a white male, who grew up in starkly white central Pennsylvania. I found the conversation between the Mocha Moms quite enlightening, not only in the context of cultural differences between different races, but just in general on raising children to appreciate their heritage and give them positive influences. Thank you for a great podcast and I will be listening eagerly in the future!

Sent by Mike Yoder | 12:43 PM | 1-4-2007

I enjoyed the Mocha Moms segment. I am a white mother in a multiracial family. I appreciate hearing what mothers of color have to say. I feel I can learn a lot from these women. Are any of the Mocha Moms part of multiracial families?

Sent by Jennifer | 4:13 PM | 1-4-2007

As an African-American woman, I always enjoy segments geared toward us. However, I felt that this segment had a "chip-on-shoulder" spin. I think we can express ourselves without seeming that way. Yes, there are a lot of white images in Xmas, and you have to be selective in what you watch. I realized that this year when watching the Xmas specials with my five-year-old. But as a child, I still enjoyed the classics, and they did not make me ashamed of my ethnicity. I heard several discussions over the holidays similar to the panel discussion among family members. One thing I find ironic is that people in one turn will say, Christmas is about the birth of Christ and gifts dont matter. Then in the same turn they will say, I dont tell them about Santa Claus, because I refuse to give credit to a white man for presents I bought with my money! (If its about Jesus, who cares where the presents came from? Just wondering...)

Sent by Kim Berry | 4:15 PM | 1-4-2007

Well, this is going to be just my very first post. First of all, I am an avid listener to NPR. I am an African American woman in my late 30s. I live in Virginia Beach, VA and hope but doubt we will have it here. Reading these comments lead me to state what seems to me to be the some ongoing problems.

First, "diverse audience" in this case, I, initially, thought to mean African American or African diaspora since the show is being produced in partnership with African American Public Radio Consortium. However, it seems that others did not know or understand that "diverse" is a euphemism for African American audience in this case. Personally, I welcome and appreciate an opportunity to have a show dedicated to African Americans. Let me also point out that I also listened, very intently, to Crossing East, the first public radio series on Asian American history http://www.crossingeast.org/. I am not Asian yet I listened. There is room for all of us. It is okay to have a show dedicated to African Americans. I welcome another show dedicated to other cultures in and out of America.

The next point I would like to point out is that after reading some to these comments, I am bother by the thought that some NPR listeners (because we are the enlightened ones) feel that expressing my experience as a Black person is not a valid experience and is actually divisive. This is often a point of view of persons that do not have the desire to understand other people. Let me just point out an obvious, most of NPR?s shows are from a white perspective. I listen to NPR 24-7. I wake up to NPR. I go to sleep listening to podcasts of shows I missed during the day. The fact that you are not included in this one show makes you not listen? NPR listeners that feel this way shame on you for missing what I believe we have in common. We listen because it is a different platform, we are going to hear different perspectives, and we want to have a glimpse of the world outside of ourselves.

Third point, I need a show to get other African Americans to first tune in to NPR. I have a sticker on my car. I am NPR?s biggest fan and critique. My son told me good luck finding a suitor that listens to NPR and is Black. What does that tell you? My son is 15 and has enjoyed many shows on NPR but would have never heard them because it is not enough content to which he can relate. But the interview with The RZA from Wu Tang Clan or Robert Christgau review of Crunk Hits really captured my son?s (mine too if the truth be told) interest. I am sure he will continue to listen even after he leaves my house and spreads his wings. But it would be really great if we could have more content for him and my brethren to relate to.

I love love love love This American life and would welcome a similar format for Rough Cuts with Michele Martin. I also like Left Right and Center. All Things Considered is up there as well. I just love NPR. So I really don?t know maybe a mix of everything, including a little Wait, Wait Don?t Tell Me.

Well, I didn?t mean to carry on like this but?. It is said now.

Good Luck!!

Sent by Tessa | 4:26 PM | 1-4-2007

I love this segment. These ladies sound like the African American women I know. I tend to hate the human interest stories and interviews from NPR because my personal interests vary a great deal from the decision makers at NPR. I love the news reporting though. I think NPR provides some of the best news reporting on mainstream American interests. This segment totally reflects the world I live in. Furthermore, this is a conversation I have been listening to and participating in all of my life. Keep up the good work!

Sent by James A. Muhammad | 4:30 PM | 1-4-2007

I like your show and I think you should have a call-in show, I believe it would generate discussion among all American.

Why is it when you talk about the holidays you excluded the Muslim American? We also had a holiday in December call Eid al-Adha. The Festival of the Sacrifice is one of two major Islamic celebrations and takes place on the tenth day of the Islamic month Dhul-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar in which millions of Muslims from around the world make an annual pilgrimage to Makkah in order to worship Allah (The Creator) and to commemorate the willingness of the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) to sacrifice his son Ishmael in response to a command from God. Satisfied with Abrahams devotion, God replaced Ishmael with a sheep at the last second, and the sheep was slaughtered instead. While pilgrims in Makkah re-enact this scene by slaughtering sheep of their own, Muslims who can afford it in the rest of the world also participate in this rite by slaughtering sheep, camels and cows. One third of the meat is distributed to the poor, one third to neighbors and relatives while one third is kept by the person who offered the sacrifice for use within his or her own family.

In your next show please include all Americans.

Sent by Carlos Hamer | 11:08 AM | 1-5-2007

On a side note, a husband of one of our Mocha Moms just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq. That reminds me to take a moment to thank all of you who are spending your holidays abroad, whether in the military, Peace Corps or Foreign Service. Thank you for your service and sacrifice, and that of your families. And thanks also to those of you who are spending the holidays working here at home -- in squad cars, firehouses, newsrooms, fixing utility lines, serving food or taking care of the sick. Dear Michel Here is your core audience: the returning IRAQ war soldier whose wife is a MOCHA MOM. If he had died in the war, he would likely have been from a small town where work is hard to get and a career in the US Army is a way out for him and his family. Also the service segment of our society who listen to public radio, not the gentile segment who give the money to support the station. When you get to the core of the nation, the women who get left behind when their men go to war or to the women soldiers who leave their families and then come back, you are touching a nerve I want to hear talk about their lives and struggles. All of the service people whose daily lives aid all of us, either here at home or abroad. Right on Pink Christmas.

Sent by Thomas McClure | 11:18 AM | 1-5-2007

You are the first author to include the people in the "peace corps, foreign service, and the military" in one sentence. Spoken like a true MOM.

Sent by J. Suter | 11:21 AM | 1-5-2007

I am a fifty-two year old white librarian living in the middle of Kansas.

I loved the Mocha Moms. Maybe some were angry or had chips on their shoulders. I suspect Mocha Moms are not a response to a culture that pats them on the head and praises them.

Most importantly, they articulate their strong views in quite reasonable and rational and calm manner. I was very impressed.

If they had talked about how Christmas brings the hope of peace and siblinghood for all humanity regardless of race, I would have learned nothing because I have heard this a thousand times already.

Instead, they made me think new thoughts about Christmas. Even thoughts useful for a white family's Christmas. I like their clever rationales for limiting the number of Christmas presents per person, i.e., one small gift for attending Jesus birthday party, three gifts like the Wise Mens three gifts to Jesus.

And, Michel, I look forward to more Rough Cuts.

Sent by Chris Rippel | 11:24 AM | 1-5-2007

I have one more observation about the Mocha Moms segment. When one of the Mocha Moms objected to white Santas giving gifts to her children I was reminded of slave-owners claims that they took care of their "darkies" because their slaves were unable to take care of themselves.

Sent by Chris Rippel | 11:26 AM | 1-5-2007

I don't have time to write much, but I listened to the first two shows and found them truly eye-opening and entertaining. I have subscribed.

Sent by Rachel Lomasky | 12:07 PM | 1-5-2007

The segment on Mocha moms and Christmas and Kwanzaa was very interesting. If it was a call in show, I may have called in - but I'm more of a listener, not a caller. I think it would have been interesting to have other races represented somehow, so we could hear the reaction and response from, let's say, a white mom to the idea of her daughter receiving a black doll - or just to hear their response at how important the doll issue is to black moms. Overall, it was a very interesting show.

Sent by Craig Washington | 4:39 PM | 1-5-2007

I listened to the Mocha Moms show and really enjoyed it. I felt that the women were insightful and intellectual. I think the show would've benefitted from being a little bit longer and adding in callers because I feel the show only scratched the surface of the topics discussed. I think that this show was very informative, coming from a white perspective, I liked that they talked about the representation of dolls and the lack of minority dolls. This is something we discussed to extent in one of my college classes but I feel on a whole, a lot of white people are completely ignorant to that issue in particular and I feel a lot of people in general, not just white people don't know much about Kwanzaa and have their own misconceptions so I thought this show helped people understand the holiday a little bit better. Also, I enjoyed the host, she has a good radio voice, for example I listen to Democracy Now but I feel that Amy Goodman's voice inhibits her from keeping the attention of some potential listeners. It helps to have a host with a warm and welcoming voice.

Sent by Meghan Long | 4:42 PM | 1-5-2007

I enjoyed this segment a lot. The part that made me want to comment was your question at the end about how I would respond were this a call-in show. The answer is that I wouldn't be listening if this were a call-in show! Listener calls disrupt the flow of interesting conversations between an informed host and their interesting guest(s). I do enjoy the letters segments on shows where people can respond in a more measured (and edited) way without taking so much time out of the hour.

Sent by Holly Fogleboch | 4:47 PM | 1-5-2007

I enjoyed the show about Santa and would like to weigh on on the side against call-ins. I think it would disrupt the flow of the program. Thoughtful discussion between parties, like in this segment, is interesting and I would listen to a show like this.

I do wonder, though if "diverse" is another word for African American (as another writer said). I see nothing wrong with a show about/featuring African Americans (I am white), but I would like the term defined so we are all on the same page. Diverse, to me, means, as my computer dictionary says, "showing a great deal of variety."

I thought the Muslim writer made an excellent point about Eid al-Adha. This topic could be a show in itself. Any show about ordinary Muslims and their beliefs and lives would be great, since most Americans (me included) are ignorant on this topic.

The African American Christmas songs title/description didn't interest me, and I didn't listen.

I guess I would listen if the topic sounded engaging. I may listen to the Wiki one, time permitting. I like to hear intelligent, thoughtful people discussing issues that matter to them (like the Mocha Moms!).

Good luck with the new show.

Sent by Chris M. | 11:36 AM | 1-8-2007

Christmas for me is a nightmarish time of trying to manage a variety of traditions. I am a woman born in Jamaica, and raised in New York. After 10 years in England, I now live in Liechtenstein with my husband and our 3 children (8,14, and 16 years). We have conflicts ranging from who puts the star on the tree, how many gifts, if you're grounded during the Christmas period does this negate all gifts? to what day we will actually celebrate Christmas. Here in Lichtenstein it is celebrated on Dec. 24th. Is it Santa Claus and his merry band of Reindeer? Is it Father Christmas with his toy-filled stockings? Is it Kris Kindle and the Three Wise Men? I haven't a clue. We make up for the inconsistencies in traditions with our tree which is decorated each year with decorations we've made or collected from all the places we've lived, several great meals, and family moments to cherish and laugh about. Hats off to those women who were so clear in their choices for celebrating Christmas. I enjoyed the podcast.

Sent by Jackie | 5:33 PM | 1-8-2007

I enjoyed this piece for reasons perhaps other than its intent. The guests didn't really say anything I haven't heard before -- I can remember a hissy fit over a white doll when I was younger. So it was comfortable to hear a familiar discussion. But that is also why I was just a tad disappointed. I would really like to hear about something unexpected. Of course I'm sure this may have been a novel idea to some non-black listeners I would also assume that for many, its not. And presenting the black/white dichotomy, so starkly and so .... well, black and white ... can be, I think, detrimental.

Another point I would make is that there is always this assumption that Americans are going to be Christian, and that black Americans are super Christian. I would love love love to hear a show about black Americans, or any Americans, that are not.

In any event, I am glad this was not a call-in show. I agree with another person who said callers disrupt the flow of programs. But I do like it when the host reads questions that have been e-mailed.

If I had to ask a question of the guests, it might have asked for more detail about the reaction they get from non-black friends, if any.

I did not mean for this to sound negative, I did enjoy the program and will certainly subscribe, but it will be for comfort, not for the unexpected.

And maybe Ill be surprised and find out that my rush to judgment was unwarranted!

Sent by Brandie Jefferson | 11:11 AM | 1-10-2007

As a first time mom, I really appreciated hearing the voices of the Mocha Moms. I also just really appreciate moms of color who don't represent the stereotypical single mom of color who is poor and neglectful of her children. Good for you! I agree with a previous post that it would have been fun to engage callers.

Sent by Heather Harding | 12:02 PM | 1-12-2007

I think it is exceptional to hear about other cultures within our own country. Having been raised in a white household, in a mostly white state (Minnesota), I never had the opportunity to learn how the customs that I always thought of as common were different or difficult to people with ethnic heritages other than my own. The show is refreshing and enlightening. Well done, NPR (and especially, Michel, Marie & Sue)!

Sent by Diana | 6:39 PM | 1-18-2007

Ever since I've heard it, I've been wanting more "Mocha Moms". I am a white teacher in a mixed race community and this show helped me to understand the black community's points of view. It was easier to access for me because it was told not through the frustration and anger of a group fighting racism, but through the love and caring of mothers.

Sent by Suzanne | 10:49 AM | 1-23-2007

I'm a white, jewish guy married to a WASP woman and I thought this was a very interesting piece. I always enjoy hearing about the experiences of people who are trying to make the holidays and Christmas fit into their lives without buying into all of the commercialism. These were funny, smart interesting, and engaging women who take the time to think about their actions. I don't think that wisdom is limited to a black audience. I would enjoy a discussion with them about other topics as well.

Sent by Scott | 6:43 PM | 1-25-2007

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