In our modern, diverse nation, it doesn’t seem that far-fetched that Mall of America would hire its first Black Santa this holiday season. After all, America has even had an African-American president, what’s the big deal? To most people, there isn’t one. However, after the news broke that the Mall of America had, in fact, hired a black Santa, social media blew up with folks very unhappy with the shopping center’s decision.
As WCCONews reports, this year’s Santa Experience at the Mall of America will, indeed, feature a black Santa Claus. Santa’s real name is Larry Jefferson, and he hails from Dallas, Texas, when he’s not at the North Pole. According to the Mall of America’s first black Santa, he doesn’t think that his new job is anything to get into a fuss about.
“It’s no big deal, I’m still Santa, I just happen to be a Santa of Color.”
While admittedly not the real Santa, Larry is one of the thousands of helpers that work with Santa every year, doing stints at shopping centers and giving kids a chance to share their holiday wishes and a photo. The mall’s first black Santa is at the Mall of America for a limited engagement — just four days.
Visits with Santa Larry are by appointment only — the norm at the Mall of America — and he’ll be at the mall’s Santa Experience through Sunday. According to Landon Luther, the owner of the the Mall of America holiday attraction, he’s thrilled to have brought in the first black Santa to the nation’s biggest mall.
“The Santa Experience is so excited to have created this opportunity and this experience.”
Santa Larry says that he met Luther over the summer at a “Santa Convention.” According to Larry Jefferson, he kind of stood out at the event.
“We had close to a 1,000 Santas there, and I was the only Santa of Color.”
Santa Larry’s skin color doesn’t seem to make being a Santa a problem, at least for Larry Jefferson. Indeed, he says that his gig is an awesome opportunity for children of color, and all other children, too.
“It gives them something to identity with, but Santa is still just Santa. Just Saturday, I was doing an event, and one child said, ‘Santa, you’re brown,’ and I said, ‘Yes, I am, but Santa comes in many different colors.’ He said, ‘Oh,’ so I gave him a candy cane, he ran off with other kids.”
Unfortunately, not everyone is happy with the new black Santa at the Mall of America this year. In fact, some people have been downright racist and cruel about the idea of a black Santa, and many have taken to social media to share their opinions.
As Atlanta Black Star reports, the Mall of America’s black Santa is inspiring “online racists to reach new lows in intolerance [and] ignorance.” How so? In a sad turn of events this holiday season, some folks are shedding their Christmas cheer for negative online comments, telling the world (or at least anyone who will listen) that Mall of America’s black Santa is somehow not okay. Some even called for a boycott.
As Raw Story reports, the outpouring of negativity against the new black Santa got so ridiculous that the Minneapolis Star Tribune had to turn off comments about the story, according to the paper’s editor.
“Looks like we had to turn comments off on story about Mall of America’s first black Santa. Merry Christmas everyone!”
Here’s what some social media users had to say about the Mall of America’s decision.
One person complaining about the black Santa even advocated genocide as a solution to the “problem.”
Fortunately, the new Mall of America Santa got some online love, too.
What do you think? Was the Santa Experience’s decision to hire Larry Jefferson a good one, or do you think it crossed some kind of line? What are your thoughts about the Mall of America and their new black Santa?
[Featured Image by Tommy Liggett/Shutterstock]