Christmas

African-American Santa Brings Diversity to the Holidays

Brian Butler is the resident Kringle at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza this holiday season

The holiday season brings with it excitement as children look forward to meeting Santa Claus to tell him all the presents they want and how good they've been this year. But for families seeking diversity, it can be difficult to find a Saint Nick of color.

However, Brian Butler, an African-American graduate of the Schools 4 Santa and resident Kringle at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, is bringing holiday cheer to families who want to see a Santa like them.

Less than 5% of professional Santas are people of color, according to Schools 4 Santas founder Tim Connaghan. The school supplies Santas for malls and other organizations across the country.

Connaghan said the lack of racially diverse Santa Clauses is due to a variety of factors, such as historic depictions of Santa as white and a small pool of available Santa portrayers who have real beards, which are more in demand.

This scarcity has led many to travel long distances to meet Santas of color such as Butler.

The McAfee family--parents Zuri and Rahshaw along with their 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter--said they traveled from Long Beach to visit Butler at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

"Nothing against white Santa, nothing like that," Rahshaw McAfee said. "We just want people that look like them they can look up to."

However, Zuri McAfee said it is also difficult to find media depicting a Santa of color. She said her family had to buy a book that featured an African-American Santa from Amazon.

Former NBA player Baron Davis created the company Black Santa to sell products that promote diversity. The company's products include ornaments depicting an African-American Santa, sweaters and T-shirts with an image of an African-American Mrs. Claus and wrapping paper conveying sentiments of inclusivity.

The Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Santa will be available to spread holiday cheer from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. up until Christmas Day.

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