It’s 2016, and the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota — the largest shopping mall in the United States — finally hired its first black Santa Claus for Christmas. And you’ll never guess what happened next.
The Star Tribune cheerily reported, “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.’
Families can do the usual Santa thing, where they wait in line so their kids can briefly sit on Santa’s lap with their Christmas wish list. Or they can book an appointment for a photo shoot and the full “Santa Experience.”
Landon Luther, co-owner of the photo studio that sponsors the Mall of America’s Santa Experience, told The Star Tribune:
‘This is a long time coming. We want Santa to be for everyone, period.’
Last spring, Luther launched his national search for a jolly St. Nick that children of color can relate to. Finally, one of Luther’s long-time (white) Santas found the black Santa they were looking for at a Santa convention in Branson, Missouri.
‘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.’
Larry Jefferson explained that the kids never seem to care about the color of Santa Claus’s skin.
‘What they see most of the time is this red suit and candy. [Santa represents] a good spirit. I’m just a messenger to bring hope, love and peace to girls and boys.
Local families, on the other hand, were thrilled about having the chance to have their children photographed with a black Santa Claus and booked his calendar solid.
‘Hundreds of appointments requesting Jefferson have him booked solid Saturday and Sunday. Limited openings remained for Friday, and a waitlist was also available.’
Alas, The Star Tribune ran into a problem. Their black Santa Claus story attracted so many vile racist comments, an editor tweeted they were forced to disable them.
Looks like we had to turn comments off on story about Mall of America's first black Santa. Merry Christmas everyone!https://t.co/BQVm24DH6y
— Scott Gillespie (@stribgillespie) December 2, 2016
Even after the most horrific anti-black Santa comments were deleted, a handful of the more subtle ones remained.
Like this one, which dismissed the story as “utterly stupid. Everyone knows Santa “Claus” is White, fat with white hair. That’s like getting “Speedy González” and making him white. To appease the Political Correct crowd. 😂”
Plus the one that “jokes” about how we’ll need to “run a criminal background check” on that black Santa…
And for good measure you may want to, “block your chimneys and double-lock your doors.”
And where would we be without the clueless, colorblind white person who can’t even understand why the first black Santa at the largest mall in the U.S. even qualifies as news.
The vilest of the vile racist comments directed towards the Mall of America’s black Santa were swiftly deleted. But John Prager from Addicting Info caught a few of the choicest tidbits from the comments section of a news report by Minneapolis CBS affiliate, WCCO.
Luckily, lots of Facebook users of all colors also had some highly positive things to say about Larry Jefferson’s debut at the Mall of America. Chanel Brewer expressed disappointment about the racist comments and gave a heartfelt explanation for why the MOA’s first black Santa is a relevant news story.
Jay Gabbert responded to all those anti-black Santa comments with withering sarcasm.
And others commented joyfully with adjectives like “terrific” and “fantastic.”
Meanwhile, Tiffany Hill-Jackson chimed in to point out that even stodgy old Wal-Mart sells black Santa figurines.
Back in 2013, Fox’s Megyn Kelly caused a stir when she declared that Santa Claus is white. POLITICO reports that doesn’t make sense. As Harvard Professor Laura Nasrallah, an expert on early Christianity and the New Testament of the bible points out, the legend of Santa Claus evolved from the true-life historical figure, Saint Nicholas from the fourth century AD. And it’s highly unlikely that he had white skin.
‘Saint Nicholas is born into a family that probably considered itself to be ethnically Greek but in an area of the world that we now call Turkey,” she explains. “Historically, you can’t import a category like ‘white’ into fourth century Asia minor.”‘
WATCH: WCCO reports on Larry Jefferson, the Mall of America’s first black Santa.
Featured image: Video screen grab via WCCO (with comments added).