There may not have been a press conference or even an official announcement signaling the change, but Black Santas have been participating in Christmas celebrations at U.S. Disney theme parks this year.
Indeed, visitors have seen a Black Santa Claus at meet-and-greet events and employees have reported seeing Black Santas at after-hours Christmas parties at both Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, and Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, CNN reports.
This is the first time a Black Santa has been seen at those celebrations.
“Santa Claus is represented in various ways in local and regional communities and around the world — and in that spirit, Santa Claus will reflect the diversity of surrounding communities at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort,” according to a Disney spokesperson who spoke with CNN.
Seeing a Black Santa Claus at Disney parks is a welcome, and long overdue, change according to some visitors.
“I’m pretty sure I just caught the very first Black Santa to ever be at Walt Disney World and I am seriously crying happy tears,” one Twitter user posted.
Victoria Wade, a theme park social media influencer who is Black, told CNN that seeing a Black Santa made her emotional.
“With Disney implementing this change as part of their diversity and inclusion initiative, it really allows me to feel more comfortable and seen when I visit the parks,” Wade told CNN.
“Ultimately, it makes me feel more accepted and welcome, and I’m thrilled at what this will do for children of all backgrounds when they visit Disney parks.”
A Changing Cultural Landscape
Disney parks aren’t the only places where you can see a non-white Santa Claus.
For example, you may have seen a recent Oreo cookie commercial with a Black Santa. In that commercial, an overworked Santa is enjoying an Oreo cookie.
Retailer Old Navy is also recruiting non-white Santas. CNN reports that the retailer is even holding what it calls “Santa Bootcamp,” an online inclusive training program that encourages participation “from a broad array of backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultural heritages to offer more representation in the role of Santa.”
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