Larry Jefferson-Gamble, a retired army veteran, started his new job on Thursday: as Father Christmas.
He happens to also be black.
Earlier this year, Mall of America in Minnesota announced its intention to host a black Santa in their ‘Santa Experience’ for the first time in its history.
Santa Jefferson, from Dallas, has been dressing up as Santa since the tender age of 12.
He told CBS News:
It’s no big deal, I’m still Santa, I just happen to be a Santa of Color...
Jefferson met the owner of the Santa Experience, Landon Luther, at a Santa Convention in Missouri over the summer, and while there were over 1,000 Santas, he had been the only black one.
According to Jefferson, being a black Father Christmas allows children of colour to identify with him.
I was doing an event, and one child said, ‘Santa, you’re brown,’ and I said, ‘Yes, I am, but Santa comes in many different colors.’ He said, ‘Oh,’ so I gave him a candy cane, he ran off with other kids.
Racist people took to the comments section of the CBS Minnesota article and posted offensive comments about his colour.
This prompted the news group to turn the comments off, and Star Tribune also turned comments off when its article was published.
Suffice it to say, his four-day slots were quickly fully booked.
The people of Twitter responded to the racism in kind:
Some were baffled
And pointed out the irony of piling racial slurs on a man who fought for the country...
Pointed out a few ironies actually...