Diary of a Happy Black Santa
by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
I had to admit, when the Christmas controversy dujour was a discussion regarding whether Santa Claus could be black; I knew we had jumped the holiday shark.
But instead of going into a diatribe regarding Fox News host Megan Kelly, I decided to talk about this from some personal experience; I’ve actually played Santa Claus.
It was back in the early 2000s. A friend of mine managed the mall in Springfield, IL and it was getting close to the holiday season. The mall wanted to do something a little different that year to increase traffic by appealing to a broader demographic (in reality they wanted to get more black shoppers) so they decided to hire a black Santa.
They had several Santas in the rotation, but they did not have a black one. So my friend called and asked me if I was up for it. I was a little hesitant at first? At least until I found out Black Santa got paid $200 a day. After that I had visions of cigars and scotch dancing in my head. All I had to do was put on a red suit, stuff a pillow under my coat and put on a beard that would be a little itchy at times. Heck that was child’s play. However, I did wonder though how some of the kids would take it though.
For the most part, and unlike adults, they didn’t notice a thing. However, I did have one kid sit on my lap and when he looked at me told me I didn’t look like the Santa Claus in the pictures, to which I told him that was okay, because he was probably looking at a negative.
But to be honest, the fun part of playing “Black Santa” was getting to have a little more attitude so I could “keep it real”. For example, when I asked one kid what he wanted for Christmas, he immediately went down the inventory list at Best Buy. I told him he needed a job. Mom and Dad loved it.
I had another kid tell me he wanted a puppy for Christmas, much to the chagrin of his parents. I asked him who would take care of it, he told me his parents. I told him to think twice and if Santa was going to bring him a puppy, he would be responsible for it and have to feed it, walk it and clean up after it, not his parents. Shortly there afterwards, he did not want a puppy anymore and Dad slipped me $20.
It turned out Black Santa was really popular with the parents (who loved the reality checks St. Nick was handing out) and the kids who loved Santa, just because he’s Mr. Claus. The mall was extremely happy because it brought in new customers as word got out. And I was ecstatic because I got paid to talk.
At the end of day, it was Santa’s attitude mattered more than his skin color. Maybe that’s a lesson we should all try to keep in mind past the holiday season and ignore some of this silly stuff.
I'm off to the South Pole.