A Black homeowner in Little Rock, Arkansas, isn’t letting any amount of racism in his community stop him from spreading the Christmas spirit.
Chris Kennedy of North Little Rock was shocked to receive an anonymous letter from a white-identifying neighbor in 2020 demanding he removes an inflatable Black Santa that was part of his Christmas display. In the letter, the author claims they are “Santa” and accuses Kennedy of “being jealous of my race.”
“Please remove your negro Santa Clause yard decoration. You should not try to deceive children into believing that I am a negro,” reads the note. “I am caucasian (white man, to you) and have been for the past 600 years. Your being jealous of my race is no excuse for your dishonesty. Besides that, you are making yourself the laughing stock of the neighborhood. Obviously, your values are not that of the Lakewood area and maybe you should move to a neighborhood out east with the rest of your racist kind. Yours truly, Santa Claus”
Although it was the fourth year he’d decorated using the Santa, it was the first he’d received a note. “I’ve done this every year and haven’t had any issues,” he told KARK in 2020.
While he admits that the note has made him hesitant to put up his holiday display this year, he still plans on moving forward with his family tradition. “The display is always about my daughter and what she wants,” he told KFOR News 4. “She wants to decorate right now and we haven’t done it yet just because of time, circumstances with work, and honestly a bit of the backlash from last year…”
Kennedy was also inspired to begin a new tradition of becoming a Black Santa himself after he was invited to Santa Camp with New England’s Santa Society following news spreading about the note. He’ll spread joy this Christmas season virtually this month, and in person in his community in December.
“I know there are little kids out there that look like me, that will get to see a Santa that looks like them and that’s what brings me the most joy,” he said.
Kennedy-as-Santa will also be the star of the show during the city of North Little Rock’s annual Northern Lights Festival.
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