Hi again. It’s me, Daniel. I figured I’d write early just in case my letter got lost or you saw my list and decided to procrastinate a couple weeks before starting (honestly, that’s what I would do). Oh, and it’s ok if you want to sit down before continuing. In fact, it would definitely be safer.
Okay, here goes.
Last year, I asked you to send me a producer or two and at least one major movie studio that would be interested in filming a powerful and moving epic about the formation of the Hawaiian Kingdom, based on true events, historical research, and interviews with indigenous sources. So you know that production part? Yeah, it sort of didn’t happen. I’m not saying I’m not grateful for the awards my screenplay won, but, as far as props go, I was kind of going for the kind you get after the movie gets made.
So, I kind of figure thatcha owe me.
And I think I came up with a couple of ideas that would be easier to pull off than motivating Hollywood to make a film that wasn’t just about white men killing each other, white men saving this planet, white men saving a different planet, white men romancing brown women, or some combination of the above.
I’d like to ask you to give me one of the following:
- World decolonization: Sort of like “World Peace,” but better. Give back the gift of land—the gift that keeps on giving. I’m not saying “instantly send everybody back where they came from.” Fitting that many settler colonials in with all the presents you already have to deliver would be tough, even with your magical bottomless bag. And with my luck I’d be stuck between some kid’s soon-to-be pet hedgehog and a medieval re-enactor’s authentically spikey morningstar. But land reparations, or at least an honest offer of reparations has to be part of reconciliation with colonized peoples. I think you could even package it in gift wrapping that would say “Restoring the Land to its People: building relationships, not reservations.” See, I already did half the work for you.
- End Patriarchy: Patriarchy is like a dog: it sheds its coat all the time, but keeps peeing on the same fire hydrant. Yesterday that coat was “Patriarchy,” today it’s “Complimentarianism” and tomorrow it’ll be some variation of “Biblical Manhood/Womanhood/Servant/Masterhood.” If you’re a woman, like the fire hydrant, the color of the coat just doesn’t matter, but the denigration and subjugation does. Please help people to see that patriarchy, under any name, puts down women all the way from “third world” Nigeria, to the destitute shanties of Cambodia, to the affluent ‘burbs of Dallas. Oh, and while you’re at it, please help Americans understand that our version of patriarchy isn’t morally superior to the African, Asian, or South American kind.
- A church with a prophetic voice, centered around marginalized people: Sorry, couldn’t figure out a shorter way to say it. What I mean is a church that is composed of those who have been historically marginalized and is willing to speak a bold message of individual and structural change. Santa, you drop into a lot of living rooms in your line of work. You know what rich families get and what poor families ask for. Doesn’t it break your heart to deliver a pack of gum to shack and a brand new corvette to a mansion? Even in the church the powerful gather more power: worldy success is interpreted as spiritual gifting, but those on the outside get pushed farther out. Help us make a church that can speak profoundly, act compassionately, and spread power instead of accumulating it. No, I don’t have a plan on how to do this yet, I’m sure the elves would though.
If you’re looking for help on the first one, talk with the folks at North American Institute for Indigenous Theology. I’m sure Andrea Smith, Randy Woodley, Richard Twiss, Terry LeBlanc, Ray Aldred, et al. would have some ideas for where you could start.
And for help with number two, check here: Christians For Biblical Equality. Let me ask you a couple questions about your ministry: What do you do? Deliver presents, bring joy to children around the world? Eat cookies and milk left by the fire? That bit’s been covered pretty well. What do the elves do? Build toys. What does Rudolph do? Guide the sleigh. What does Mrs. Claus do? NO ONE KNOWS. There is neither text, nor tale, neither song nor meme which describes her contribution to Noel. Doesn’t it bother you that your wife has been written out of the Christmas story? The reason she’s been erased from your story is the same reason “Junia, oustanding among the apostles” (Romans 16:7) was changed to “Junias, oustanding among the apostles.” Patriarchy. When patriarchy corrupts ministry, women disappear, your wife included.
By the way, if you have extra room in your bag, I’d be ok with you sending along a good illustrator, maybe turning my screenplay into a graphic novel?
So, uhm, that’s about it.
See you December 25th!
P.S. If you could avoid taking credit for the presents that you didn’t bring, that would be really cool. It’s hard enough to make jack diddly squat as a colored writer who writes about colored people and women’s issues. It sucks even more when you save all year to give something really special and your presents gets attributed to a big-boned white dude, no offense.