This summer, Minnesota’s Mall of America sent a “Santa recruiter” across the country to look for Santas of color to diversify their lineup of 2016 Christmas Santas. The recruiter went to the annual Santa convention in Branson, Missouri (convention goals), and found Larry Jefferson, the black Santa to end all Santas.
Johnson was offered a spot at the Mall of America for a 4-day stint, which he happily accepted. Last week, Santa Larry made his first appearance at the mall. The lines were long, the crowds were thrilled, and his weekend appointments were completely booked by Thursday. According to The Washington Post, “One woman told Jefferson she had been waiting 25 years to see a black Santa. Other families told him they had driven hours just so their kids could meet him.”
Man, it would be great if this wonderful story ended right there, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, racists had to come in and poop all over their natural habitat, which is everyone’s comment sections. Most articles had to either shut off their comments or never allowed comments to start with, which apparently is common practice when news sites post articles involving race. One post from a local Minnesota CBS station still has a sampling of some of the comments it got up on the site, however. Here are a few examples:
- “Society continues swirling around the toilet.”
- “If you were educated you would know that Santa clause [sic and ironic] was based on a monk named St. Nicholas who was, now get this….CAUCASIAN!”
- “I think kids may wonder why santa [sic] does not look like the santa they are familiar with. Don’t understand the point of this.”
- “Just seems kinda racist to make him black for the sake of having a black Santa.”
We know. It’d be hilarious if it weren’t so very, very sad.
Let’s break this down as simply as possible: Santa was popularized as a white character because of course he was. There’s a reason that we typically see white Santas in our culture, and the reason starts with “R” and rhymes with “racism” because that’s what it is. White people tend to see the world as a white world with white people representing “the norm” — this is demonstrated in the third comment about how “kids may wonder why santa does not look like the santa they are familiar with.” Exactly which kids are they talking about, here? Which kids are we supposed to cater to because their beliefs are the “right” beliefs? It’s pretty clear this commenter, and all of the people who are so offended by the idea of a black Santa, aren’t talking about American children, “more than half of [whom] are expected to be ‘part of a minority race or ethnic group’ by 2020.”
There are a whole lot of kids in this country who don’t need to behave for, make requests of and get judged by a Santa that represents a group of people that has oppressed them. And Santa doesn’t need to be one thing to all people. As Santa Larry himself put it, “There need to be more Santas of color, because this is America, and kids need to see a Santa that looks like them. That helps kids to identify with the love and spirit of the holiday, you know?”
If you want to call the Mall of America to voice your support for their decision to diversify their Santas, you can call them at 952-883-8800.