Edited by Azizi Powell
This post provides information and comments about and a video of a Black Santa at the Mall of America (Minneapolis, Minnesota).
The content of this post is presented for historical and cultural purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to Larry Jefferson and others who have portrayed Santa, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or gender. Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.
Mall of America Hires First Black Mall Santa for Holiday Season
Trump VS Hillary, Published on Dec 1, 2016
| Mall of America Welcomes its first Black Santa |
Visiting for just four days, Larry Jefferson is the first black Santa to listen to kids' wish lists at the Mall of America. After 24 years, the Mall of America celebrated a new first Thursday: Its first black Santa.
Dozens of Santas cycle through Twin Cities shopping centers each year, spreading joy to children who entrust them with their holiday wish lists. What has been missing from that experience, some parents say, was a Kriss Kringle who represented a wider swath of believers.
This week, for the first time in the Mall of America’s 24-year history, a black Santa will greet families for annual Christmas photos.
“This is a long time coming,” said Landon Luther, co-owner of the Santa Experience, which has run the intimate photo studio at the mall for 10 years. “We want Santa to be for everyone, period.”
The mall offers a free, wait-in-line-with-the-masses Santa, as well as the book-an-appointment Santa Experience, which this year added a second location at the Bloomington megamall. The appointments require purchase of a photo package.
Luther started a national search last spring for a diverse St. Nicholas that kids of color would be able to relate to. Santa Sid, a 20-year veteran at MOA, finally found one while at a Santa convention in Branson, Mo., where nearly 1,000 impersonators convened for a “Kringle family reunion” in July.
Larry Jefferson, a retired U.S. Army veteran from Irving, Texas, was the only black Santa Claus in attendance. The jovial actor agreed to sign a four-day contract to work in Minnesota, after which he’ll return home to work the seasonal circuit in Dallas.
“It was like finding a needle in a haystack,” said Luther, who runs the business with his girlfriend, Rachael Zuleger. “He considers himself a Santa for all.”
From Thursday to Sunday, by appointment only, Jefferson will greet kiddos at the mall while decked as Santa Larry, passing out candy canes and reminding them how to stay off the naughty list: “Clean your rooms, eat your vegetables and do what your mommy and daddy say all year.”
As he prepared for his first appointments Thursday morning, Jefferson said that skin tone doesn’t matter to the kids he meets.
“What they see most of the time is this red suit and candy,” he said, patting his sleek velvet coat. “[Santa represents] a good spirit. I’m just a messenger to bring hope, love and peace to girls and boys.”
Jefferson officially began donning the red suit in 1999, but his love of playing St. Nick started as just a boy.
After his father hurt his back, a 12-year-old Jefferson took on the role of Santa in the Arkansas family home, divvying up presents for his younger siblings. It was a role that stuck, continuing long after he joined the U.S. Army infantry and served abroad in the Gulf War.
His young nephews may have catalyzed his decision to play Santa-for-hire after he practiced the act on them, Jefferson said. The boys were sick and wouldn’t get a chance to visit the resident mall Santa, so he bought a $30 suit at Wal-Mart and affixed a fake beard, then knocked on their front door.
Following the visit, the parents asked if the boys knew who the visitor was. They replied, “Of course — it was Santa,” Jefferson recalled with a chuckle.
Since then, he’s graduated from a premiere Santa school, retired from the military and grown his own bushy white beard.
Last year, Jefferson became the first, and only, black member of the Lone Star Santas, a nonprofit boasting more than 350 Santa Clauses, Mrs. Clauses, and elves who donate toys to children in disaster-stricken areas.
Jim Fletcher, director emeritus of the fraternal order, said the group also has around six Hispanic Santas and at least two Jewish members. Ethnicity and religion are not what matters, he said; rather, it’s the spirit of giving.
“Being Santa comes from the heart,” Fletcher said. “It’s not what comes down the chimney.”
On Thursday morning, Jefferson emerged as Santa Larry, wowing toddlers and their siblings during individual play sessions. He spoke softly to his fans, patiently waiting for them to divulge their Christmas wishes.
Shelly Major, of Blaine, toted her three children to the photo studio for their few minutes with Jolly ol’ St. Nick. “He was very warm,” Major said.
Parents of biracial tots said they were especially pleased to show their kids that heroes come in all ethnicities. “Santa isn’t just white,” said Sara Schwantes, of Inver Grove Heights.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & COMMENTS ABOUT BLACK SANTA AT THE MALL OF AMERICA
From http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-santa-racists-freak-out_us_5844fb5ee4b09e21702f631b Racists Freak Out Over Black Santa At Mall Of America
...but most people absolutely love “Santa Larry.” by Ed Mazza, 12/05/2016
"There’s a black Santa Claus at the Mall of America in Minnesota, giving children of color a Kringle that looks like them at the nation’s biggest shopping destination.
Naturally, some people just can’t handle this, and racists are taking to social media to denounce Larry Jefferson-Gamble, a retired U.S. Army veteran who has been playing Santa since he was 12 years old.
The response has been so heated that the Minnesota Star-Tribune had to shut down the comments section for a simple profile of the mall’s first black Santa:
A CBS Minnesota report was also swamped with negative and outright racist comments, which were also shut down but are still visible in the article.
But this was one battle the trolls wouldn’t win, as many others took to social media in support of the black Santa:
George Takei ✔ @GeorgeTakei
Watching people meltdown over a Black Santa in the Mall of America. "Santa is white!" Well, in our internment camp he was Asian. So there.
4:16 PM - 3 Dec 2016
Mark Buchanan @therealmarkb
The Mall of America has a black Santa and racists done lost their minds. #SantaLarry is awesome! He's also a vet and deserves respect!
10:43 PM - 3 Dec 2016
Caroling Along 🔔🎄 @SoCalRamen
All the love and prayers go out to Larry Jefferson. Santa can be *anybody* y'all.
1:17 PM - 2 Dec 2016
Here are some comments from this article (Numbers assigned for referencing purposes only)
1. Terry Lee
" "Kids love Santa no matter what color you are." -- Santa Larry
If the kids don't care what color Santa is -- neither should the adults."
2. Edie Gignac · McMaster University
"It's sad that the color of skin still raises the hackles of people in 2016.....it's time to stop it......maybe those that have a problem with color should go back to where their ancestors came from....oh wait, people of color live everywhere in the globe today.....what to do??"
3. Armand DeLuise · UCLA
"Wait until the Trumpholes go to Heaven and find out that god is also black...oh that's right, they will see a red person where they're going!"
4. Terry Lee
"Wait till they find out that not only is God black, she's a woman!"
5. Grace Carney
"I love Santa Larry! Some people are so ugly they have to pick on Santa Clause. If they are so disturbed, there are many many (99.9) white Santas out there for their children to see, who I hope do not grow up and see the world like their parents."
6. James Pugh · Omaha, Nebraska
"It's really just one more thing that whites have never had a clue over. In my house there was always two santas. The white one on Television and the Black one who showed up at our door each year with presents when I was a kid. Whites just don't get the privilege they live in......."
7. Derrick Mitchell
"I an 53 years old and our house as a child was always decorated with images of Black Santas! Did these people just start see Black santas? I am sure there are Mexicans and Asian santas too!"
8. Terry Lee
"Sadly, these racists who think the color of Santa's skin matters, are blinded by hate, to the real meaning and spirit of Christmas."
9. John Lee
"I need all the "respect our veterans and our flag" conservatives to step up for a veteran playing santa...oh and also the "war on Christmas " fox heads
....or does his blackness negate all that?"
10. Delilah Darcy
" "I do not wanna be in the same room as the people who are offended by black santa when they find out that Jesus was a middle eastern refugee" BOOM!!!"
"LOL, their heads expoloding no doubt it will disturb them so very much. Dare we remind THEM he was Jewish also?"
12. Ron McWater
"Given the reaction to a black Santa they will really freak out when they learn Jesus wasn't white either."
13. Thomas Hurt
"1. Santa Claus is a myth
2. Santa Claus was based in part on a Catholic Saint, St. Nicholas
3. St Nicholas was Turk/Greek so it is unlikely he was a nordic white bread dude
4. Santa Claus is not Jesus
5. Santa is fictional
6. Santa has been turned into a secular symbol of consumerism.
Why is anyone in the WASP majority complaining at all............."
14. Joanne Hublitz · New York University
"I have a picture of my two (white) young daughters sitting on a Black Santa's lap taken at a mall. My daughters are now 32 and 37 years old."
15. Linda Maria
"Santa is a sentiment, a feeling, a big heart, not a level of melanin."
16. Giles Jackson · Middletown, New Jersey
"The real St Nic; Father Christmas, Santa Claus was born in Patara, Turkey, so he was middle Eastern, not white."
Additional information is given in the summary for the video given below.