At Youngwood Court, Santa's Black

On my way home tonight, I drove by Hancock Park's most famous residence, Youngwood Court. Youngwood Court is known for: 1) Being ringed by 17 naked Statue of David's, year round, and 2) Having must see holiday decorations every single year. My kids went nuts in the back seat when we drove by and begged me to tool around the block so we could take another look at the home's get-up.

I can tell I'm old (and a little cynical?) because while my kids marvel over the lights, I can only think about what the electric bill for this place must be.

Eventually, my boys began to ask stuff like, "Is that a mansion or just a really big house?"

Uh, I only know it's bigger than our apartment. Anything bigger than our apartment is a mansion.

"How long did it take to put up all those decorations?"

Um... a really long time. Although I wonder if the owner, a brotha named Norwood (and he has a MySpace), actually puts them up himself or does he hire people to do it all. Hmm...

However he does it, Norwood has a fan in my sons because while I was contemplating how much money it would take to buy a small house in Hancock Park, my eldest son excitedly screamed, "LOOK! All the Santa Clauses are BLACK!"

And sure enough, Santa at Youngwood Court IS black! I know it's a bit difficult to tell from the photo, but atop every red bow is an image of Santa. And he's black.

I couldn't help telling my boys, "Well, the guy who owns the house is black."

Yup, I know you are all Christmased-out right now and you may not care what color Santa is. You just don't want to see his fat behind till next year. But, I thought about my telling them that the owner of the house is black and I wondered why I did that. Clearly, my astute seven year-old was using his deductive reasoning and thinking about it too. "So white people wouldn't put up statues of a black Santa Claus?"

Uh, um. I'm not sure but my gut says no, they wouldn't.

Why do I think that? Am I wrong?

And then, before I could comment anymore, Michael Jackson's "Beat It" came on the radio. It was like blackness overload: Owner of a mansion, Santa, Michael Jackson AND the President Elect!

Yes, they were positively giddy. And you know what? Me too.


God...I remember that house. Didn't the neighbors complain about it?

I've seen the owner on Larchmont with his little pink and purple dyed dogs. He's a trip.
Toni Campbell said…
Things I miss about LA:
Koo Koo Roo
Youngwood Court! (only non food-related item)
Jessalyn said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessalyn said…
I deleted my comment to correct a grammatical error. I wish there was a way to edit instead of deleting and starting over again.

I have to be honest, I wouldn't put up black Santas. I subscribe to the Santa is white since he's from the North Pole theory. Though, to be consistent, I don't put up any white Jesuses either. Actually I don't put up any Jesuses, but if I did, they wouldn't be white. :-P

That's awesome that your sons were so giddy about it!
When we lived in TN, our next-door neighbor displayed the most tasteless Christmas decorations I have ever seen. Every blade of grass had a light on it, no two lights were the same color and even his many vehicles on blocks were brightly decorated.

Santa, who was white in those days, set up shop with his reindeer right next to a life-sized creche next to all the jerkily animated Disney characters. The total effect was of melted Play Doh. Sometimes he shot a deer out of season and hung it to drain from a tree with lights.

Since he was never going to move, we did.

Happy New Year, Liz!

(My verification letters are "shinesum.")
Anonymous said…
Los Angelista,
Guess I’ll just have to re-do Beyonce’s song …
“Just a (White) Boy”
Phi Sister said…
At my house, Santa Claus is black too.
sippinwineman said…
Although I'm a fan of the likes of David Attenborough's Santa (forgive the spelling), I've been a fan of Black Santas since I was a kid (Black as a positive image, '60s and 70s power movement)
The question in my mind is. . Does this dude have some Caribbean heritage? It seems that, here in the DC area, folks who do the outlandish-and-I-mean-OUTLANDISH Christmas displays tend to be from the Caribbean. Does not matter though. He's got that Christmas spirit. That's all that matters, right?
Jen said…
Actually, as Santa Claus was originally from some pagan lore and was an ice king, he would be white, as in not the peach or olive-y skin tone that we call "white" but literally, paint-on-the-wall white or clear. And kind of scary.

And that would stink for kids. So I say, Jolly Santa should be all the colors that make kids happy - whatever strikes your fancy!
sippinwineman said…
St. Nicholas, although European, was a bishop in Turkey. He was known for giving gifts to orphans in particular and children in general.
There were many versions of him around the world, but the dutch brought him to America where the Brit-Americans couldn't quite understand the dutch accents. Sooo St. Nicholas becomes San-NICK-laas. Change the wrong emphasis on the wrong syllable and you get Santa Clause. Couple that with the poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas" with very early Coca-Cola advertising (remember, in the poem, Santa is an elf. Later, he grew in size).
Sorry for the lecture.
1969 said…
You went to Norwood's house? I love it. He is crazy as a loon and if I ever come toLA, youmust take me there.

Happy New Year to you and the family Liz!
Anonymous said…
That's a question I regularly ask myself - why no black Santas? And why does nobody else (in Britain at any rate) ever ask that question? Surely black kids must wonder about white Santas all the time? And there's so much political sensitivity around race I'm surprised black Santas haven't become totally routine. But somehow it's just taken for granted that Santa is white.
Anonymous said…
Well, why not? Hs a mythical being, his appearance certainly ought to be at the discretion of the homeowner. But you know what would have been really funny? If they had been all shades on the off-white to dark brown continuum. Like a UN of Santas. Makes me wish I did the tacky outdoor displays so I could do that.
Liz Dwyer said…
Pink and purple dogs? Wowzer. Neighbors did complain but I guess everybody's made their peace. He's gone from being hated to being crowned King of Hancock Park!

Yup, driving by his place, especially at Christmas is a Los Angeles must-do. I wanna go to Roscoe's now. Yum.

No worries, I'm the blog author and I commit all sorts of unedited grammatical errors all the time, I'm sure. Anyway, I love your logic!

LOL, that house is certainly shining some! I remember seeing a house with the big Disney characters lit up. Those are SO unattractive. UGH!

LOL, I'm sure you could sing it better than her too.

Phi Sister,
I was telling somebody about this and they said, well if Santa's black, is he light skinned or dark skinned. I died laughing! Sigh!

I have no idea if he has Caribbean heritage or not. There are plenty of buckwild decorators here in LA though and we don't have a large Caribbean population. I think something about this place just brings that little extra extra out.

That's the story I know as well. He certainly has morphed over the years.

Feel free to drop as much knowledge as you like. :)

Happy New Year to you too! I sure did go there! And I will absolutely take you there when you come out this way.

The funny thing is that here in LA, I see Latino Santa at little neighborhood Christmas/holiday festivals. But in imagery, he's still a white guy most of the time.

I like that idea of the UN of Santas! You're a genius!
Mishka said…
hey.. sorry to bother you but i tracked your blog from BLOGU.. i cant seem to get the template and i was wondering if you can email me the xmlplease im close totears
Sundry said…
I'm tagging you! (I don't think I've tagged you before.) I want to know what 10 things you did in 2008 that you're happy about or proud of.
Ian Lidster said…
I agree with Citizen and othes that Santa should look for kids the way the kids look, because that's who he's there for. So, all ethnic groups should have St. Nick in their own images.

Have a wonderful 2009, lovely friend.

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