It’s a dark comedy based on the semi-autobiographical short stories of Jean Shepherd, as originally collected in the book “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.” While the interior scenes were mostly filmed in Cleveland, “A Christmas Story” is set in the fictional community of Hohman, Indiana, circa 1939.
Black people are present in “A Christmas Story.” T are several black children in Ralphie’s elementary school classroom and, like their white peers, they participate in pulling a prank on their teacher.
The stories upon which “A Christmas Story” was based were written during the 1960s and featured reflections on the supposed simplicity of white working-class family and community life in pre-World War II America.
These yearnings for a particular fictional version of the American past continue to loom large in 2016, as the proto-fascist Donald Trump, promising to “Make America Great Again,” won over tens of millions of angry white voters and captured the White House, apparently with the aid of his foreign sponsor, Vladimir Putin.
The particular type of white nostalgia that infuses “A Christmas Story” has no interest in depicting the way Ralphie’s hometown was created by racist housing practices that denied nonwhites access to such spaces.
Nor does the white nostalgia of “A Christmas Story” have any room for discussion of the real history of Indiana, a state that was one of the most powerful strongholds of the Ku Klux Klan during the first decades of the 20th century.
This is especially true when it comes to pop culture; white privilege and white fragility all too often result in howls of rage and anger when white folks’ fun and pleasure are disrupted by a person of color’s questions or interventions – or sometimes mere presence.
One of the greatest examples of white privilege is the ability to decide when and how you will be made uncomfortable.