Thursday marked a new first for the Mall of America: the option to take a photograph with a black Santa.
"This is a long time coming," said Landon Luther, the co-owner of the mall's Santa Experience, according to the Star Tribune. The search for a black Santa signifies the mall's desire to give children who aren't white an opportunity to see a Santa that looks like them. "We want Santa to be for everyone, period," Luther said of the decision. And while the action might feel small or way overdue, it's also a positive sign of proactive inclusiveness amidst a current political climate that has sent a message of intolerance to many Americans.
The hunt for a diverse Santa wasn't an easy one, which is not shocking considering that for centuries Saint Nick has been marketed to Americans exclusively as a white man with rosy cheeks. But in the end they found him. While at a Santa convention in Branson, MO (there truly is a convention for everything), Santa Sid, a veteran Santa at the Mall Of America, found the only non-white Kris Kringle present: Larry Jefferson.
Jefferson, a seasoned Santa impersonator from Irving, Texas, decided to make history and sign a contract for a four-day stint taking pictures with kids and passing out candy canes in Minnesota. And if your heart is still feeling cold this holiday season, just hear was Jefferson has to say about being a black Santa: "I’m just a messenger to bring hope, love and peace to girls and boys. Anybody can be Santa; it’s what’s in your heart.”
Dang, good luck being a grinch after that.