Mall Of America’s First Black Santa Triggers Racist Firestorm

In this Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 photo, Larry Jefferson, playing the role of Santa, smiles with Auden Good and his one-year-old brother Ezra of Ramsey while posing for photos at the Santa Experience at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP)

In this Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 photo, Larry Jefferson, playing the role of Santa, smiles with Auden Good and his one-year-old brother Ezra of Ramsey while posing for photos at the Santa Experience at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP)

For the first time in its 24-year history, the the largest mall in the United States has hired a Black Santa, a retired U.S. Army veteran from Irving, Texas, named Larry Jefferson.

The Mall of America in Minnesota hired Santa Jefferson to bring holiday cheer to children last week. But for a nation founded on racist principles and plagued by deeply embedded racial inequities, the advent of a non-white Santa Claus was seen by scores of white people as unjustifiable, a prickly attack on their time-honored tradition of white supremacy.

And they came out in throngs online to condemn the Minnesota mall for the move.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported the story, and the responses online became so racist that the newspaper had to shut down the comments section.

“Looks like we had to turn comments off on story about Mall of America’s first black Santa. Merry Christmas everyone!” tweeted Star Tribune editorial editor Scott Gillespie.


 

Santa Jefferson, however, was hardly fazed.

“I really do not have any comments on it because I kind of ignore the negativity of anything,” he said. “I try to put my life around positive, energetic people, and as I portray Santa Clause, I’ve got to be around happy people who want to celebrate the holidays, whether it is Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Merry Christmas — I have to celebrate all of these holidays and I want to be around those people.”

“So people who are negative about it — I don’t pay any attention,” he continued. “Ho ho ho.”

Watch Mall of America welcomes its first-ever black Santa in Bloomington amid racism row:


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