For the first time in the history of Disneyland and Disney World, a Black Santa Claus was the highlight of the Christmas parade during the Disney Very Merriest After Hours.
While Disney did not announce this monumental change, a video featuring a Black Santa Claus, who was waving at parkgoers from his float, has been going viral online, with many netizens commenting that it's a win for representation.
TikTok member Rozy of @rozyqueenofcups posted the video she took of the Disney parade and thanked the Disney Parks management for including a Black actor to represent Father Christmas. Rozy stated in the caption that she "can't express" just how magical it was to witness this groundbreaking moment.
@rozyqueenofcups I can’t express how magical this moment was. Thank u @disneyparks for the representation. #blacksanta #verymerriest #representationmatters #disney ♬ When Christmas Comes to Town - Matthew Hall & Meagan Moore
Reflecting Diversity in the Community
A spokesperson for Disney Parks confirmed to CNN that a Black Santa would be at both the Florida and California theme parks to meet and greet the guests during the holidays. The famous Christmas character will also be at the after-hours parties of the season to represent the different local or regional communities of the world.
Following the viral video, netizens had mixed reactions. One person tweeted that seeing the very first people of color as Santa Claus in both Disney Parks has made people "cry happy tears." Social media influencer Victoria Wade said that she had never imagined that Disney would "actually put a Black Santa in the parks."
However, some commenters on social media also said that this was just a big PR stunt, while another person did not find any reason to celebrate since Santa Claus is not a real person.
HuffPost was able to speak with one of the Black actors playing Santa Claus and said that he's aware of three other Black men who have gotten this special job for Christmas at the Disney Parks. He said that one of the guests, a Black man, cried because he had been waiting 35 years to have a Santa Claus "that looked like him." The actor said that these powerful emotions are very ripe for the spirit of the season.
Discussing Santa's Race
Nancy Redd, a children's author who wrote "The Real Santa," said that a Black Santa Claus has appeared in books for years, and the rest of the world is finally coming around to it as well. She said that the point of having a colored Santa Claus is not a racial issue, but it serves to provide children a sense of inclusivity.
However, the author said some children might have questions about Santa's long-held physical attributes as a white person who looks nothing like them. Redd said this could be a useful tool to teach children about racism.
Meanwhile, the actor playing Santa Claus at the Disney Parks said that he's more focused on spreading the joy of Christmas than his color or appearance. Though he is aware of what may be in the minds of the guests, his job is to spread "love, kindness, spirit, generosity and giving," as Santa Claus.
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