The annual holiday ritual of waiting in long lines so your children can appeal to Santa Claus for gifts is officially upon us. But as America’s population becomes increasingly diverse, a growing number of cities and establishments around the country have begun accommodating the demand from families of color who want their children to see a Santa Claus they can ethnically identify with.
The Mall of America in Minnesota in suburban Minneapolis has become one of those places, as it introduced its first black Santa Claus to meet families during the Christmas season this week, the Star Tribune reported Thursday.
“This is a long time coming,” said Landon Luther, who is part owner of a company that oversees the photos taken of Santa and families at the Mall of America.
But black Santa Claus sightings are for the most part scarce. The flagship Macy’s department store in New York City has long featured a black Santa, but it’s not openly advertised and families are only able to see and take pictures with black Santa there by special request, CNN reported.
The world famous Apollo Theater in Harlem has traditionally featured a black Santa, and there is one location on Long Island, but those appear to be the only official events offering people a chance to see and take pictures with a black Santa Claus in the metro New York City area.
Conversely, there are also at least three different locations in Indianapolis where visitors can see and take pictures with a black Santa.
Multiple locations in Atlanta were featuring a black Santa this year, as well. Other places that have offered or are offering locations for where to see black Santa Claus include Florida and various sites in California,
There is one freelance black Santa who travels throughout Georgia for “numerous functions” that people can book through his website. But by and large, most of the people who dress up as Santa Claus professionally are not people of color, as the traditional image of Saint Nicholas has always been one of a white man.
Aside from the limited number of black Santas compared to their white counterparts, their dates of availability seem to be limited, as well, instead of being featured at a particular place all season long, as is the case with the Mall of America. For instance, families have been invited to bring their children to the 2nd annual Black Santa Photo Experience in Southfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. But registration is required, and the black Santa will only be there for two day this month.
“We are so bombarded by Caucasian images of things that are considered good, that I want [my children] to have the experience, too,” Crystal Mozell, an African-American living in Los Angeles, told International Business Times last year.
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