This is the true story behind our Black Santa!

This is the true story behind our Black Santa!

Back in 97, 98 as a black, West Indian Honduran, Garifuna, a single father of 3, St. Thomas, US Virgin Island African, American born children of West Indian, Virgin Islander mother’s. It was rather difficult raising them alone up in semi-suburban Connecticut, and even tougher keeping them up to date and inclusive, without excluding or taking away too much more away from them of our culture, and ourselves.

And so, as I prepared to receive them at the airport and gotten ourselves ready to spend beautiful Christmas together that year, I came to the realization that we could keep it black, Christmas, and rather inclusive. Approximately one given day, while looking around for an affordable, durable, reusable, annual Christmas tree to join with our kwanza celebration in a Walmart store, I stumbled upon this little imaginary toy.

I thought it was perfect, given that my ex-wife, their mom, and I already agreed that their lack of embracing black dolls \ toys that rather shined a positive light on black people could later affect their self-esteem. So although I didn’t really buy into the Santa Clauses idea even as a child, my teen and tween-age kids were just like me… they had already made lots of friends among the diversity of kids of all colors and cultures in our tiny community.

This is perfect; besides, I thought it’ll be a great conversation addition to their holidays, and yes, perhaps they would also identify. And they did. They loved it.

At the time, I lived in a condominium complex in Middletown, Connecticut… walking distance from Wesleyan University and the new Middletown high school. Each year we put it out and decorated our front patio with the little chubby black fella… never had Santa nor our Christmas ever been an issue until the year 2013 when racism began to show its ugly head.

But before I go on any further, first let me backtrack to the night our little friend in the red suit was purchased. Which in itself is a kinda funny little story that deals with race, color, diversity, a quick-witted mother’s love toward her little 4-year child- and the best way of settling a racial quagmire I’d ever experienced.

The Santa Claus decoration was on sale, on clearance I believe it cost about 5.99 or $9.99. It could not have been more than $12.00. Else I wasn’t going to buy it.

I saw it way up atop a shelf, hidden and tucked snuggle in the back, the 3, 1/2 ft tall, fun bag stood  all alone. I figure an employee had probably set it aside for themselves, or perhaps a racist minded staff didn’t want black Santa’s invading their stores; who knows? Perhaps someone awaiting to get that Christmas bonus from the big Walmart store to purchase it and have some fun. Not sure am just speculating here.

Anyway,  at 6. 4,” I had the height and could easily reach it without any help, else I don’t think I would’ve been able to buy it. Not sure, but looking back today, I gather by the way I was being stared down by store employees as I was walking through the store with it in my cart. It thought it might have been racial political. But to me, it was all in fun to share the gag with my kids n their friends.

Anyway, I finally made it to the checkout line with my Afro American Santa, and I’m downright happy, but… as I get to the cashier checkout line, standing right in front of me, ahead in the line, there is a beautiful little girl and her mother. This little girl, who is apparently about 4- 5 years old… holding on to her mother’s peak coat belt. She appears multi-racial, and So does her mom. Also appeared to be a beautiful, multi racially integrated, somewhat of a beautiful lighter shade of Africanism European perhaps, Latino, Dominicano, Boricua mixture, but no accent at all.

Guess she stood there as living proof that “we’re all connected.”

As I approached the line, the little girl turns swiftly and look at Santa and me while simultaneously tugging

on her mother’s coat. She then role, her little eyes, her freckles almost stretching to joint one another across her checks, in the sense of surprise. She again called out to her mom, this time a bit louder… mom, who was now busy responding to the cashier. Her mother turned her head asking?

The little girl, then very aloud, questioned like only a 4-year-old curiosity little mind does best, “mom, I thought you said Santa was white?”

The mother who could barely remain standing by the shocking surprise of being put on the spot by such a question, as she turned around a saw this tall, 6.4, 230lbs, black man, standing behind her with a black Santa taller than her daughter in a shopping cart, like all parent has grown accustomed to their kids embarrassing and inappropriate interrogating questions; was rather quick on her. She swiftly responded with her head hanging down,  ” it’s in your heart, honey… it’s in your heart.” Indeed, Santa is in our hearts!

This is a very true story that, to this day, brings a warm smile to my heart during Christmas time as I think back to nearly 30 years later. It was a teaching moment for us all that week of Christmas that I was able to share with my children. I believe the little girl was there to teach us all about inclusiveness, life diversity, and, more importantly, love.

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