George Takei Put The Outrage At Mall Of America's Black Santa In Its Place

He offered some much-needed perspective.

Larry Jefferson was 12 when he first donned the iconic Santa suit while filling in for his dad during a bout of back pain. One Christmas when his nephews missed out on visiting their local mall Santa, Jefferson bought the costume for $30 from Walmart, put on a fake snowy beard, and paid them a visit. He's played Santa ever since, throughout his 30-year stint in the Army and now as a Santa-for-hire. 

This year, Jefferson landed his most high-profile gig to date, making his dent in the history books as the Mall of America's first black Santa. He's made local and national headlines, and he even received an invitation to speak on the Steve Harvey Show

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But apparently, for some people, Santa cannot come in any color other than white. 

Jefferson's hire — and the publicity surrounding it — has been bogged down by racist outrage. News stories about Jefferson have received a deluge of negative, bigoted comments railing against the decision to hire a black Santa. Things went downhill so quickly that the Minneapolis Star-Tribune had to shut down the comments section on their profile of Jefferson.

Many have chimed in with support for Jefferson, among them actor and advocate George Takei, who fired out a tweet that put it in perspective. Takei noted that when he was in a Japanese internment camp, their Santa was Asian. 

"Watching people meltdown over a black Santa in the Mall of America. 'Santa is white!' Well, in our internment camp he was Asian. So there," he wrote. 

The "Santa is white" grievance is not particularly new, just as the related "war on Christmas" claim isn't. In 2013, in response to a Slate article arguing that "Santa Should Not Be White Anymore," Fox News host Megyn Kelly infamously declared that both Santa and Jesus were white. (Santa is a fictional character and Jesus was a Middle Eastern Jew.)

Representation matters, whether on TV shows or in cultural lore. "There needs to be more Santas of color, because this is America, and kids need to see a Santa that looks like them," Jefferson told The Washington Post. "That helps kids to identify with the love and spirit of the holiday, you know?"

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