In a season defined by holiday cheer and togetherness, the Mall of America has been making some people’s Christmas wishes come true by hiring their first African American Santa Claus. I think Santa is more defined by the Christmas spirit and joy he brings to people around the globe, and not the color of his skin.

Larry Jefferson has been taking on the Santa role for over 20 years. He was discovered and hired by the co-owner of Santa Experience, Landon Luther, as the only black Santa out of over 1,000 in attendance at a Santa convention this summer.

Courtney Bethel / Equinox Staff

Courtney Bethel / Equinox Staff

I was happy to hear that in person, “Santa Larry” only seemed to be received with positivity. Aside from being completely booked his entire four days at the mall, people came from all over to the biggest mall in America to see this historic Santa.

The Washington Post reports on a woman telling Jefferson she had been waiting 25 years to see a black Santa.

Jefferson is representative of more than just Santa being a different color than “usual”.  Part of his large success with photo bookings, I think, was in part that people have yet to have had a chance to take pictures with a Santa who looks like them and that they can relate to.

Sadly, behind the comfort and anonymity of the keyboard, racists took to the internet, spewing their hate and disagreement online by saying things like, “Santa is WHITE,” and calling for others to boycott the mall. Jefferson took it in stride, unsurprised at the online negativity and comparing those people to “Grinches,” according to National Public Radio’s website.

Jefferson seems like a man who truly loves what he does, and I don’t think he should let those speaking out in a negative light bring him or his spirits down.

You can never be completely prepared or ready for anything, but as a nation as a whole, I think America is ready for “Santa Larry,” and I am glad Minnesota welcomed him with open arms.

Meridith King can be contacted at Mking@kscequinox.com