Baron Davis adds a bit of color to Christmas with The Black Santa Company The former NBA star aims to diversify the holiday with his game-changing venture
The Mall of America in Minneapolis hired a black Santa for the first time in 24 years this year after a national search. The hope of America’s largest mall was to have a “Santa for everyone.”
Not everyone felt the same way.
The comments section following a story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune about the Mall of America’s black Santa was shut down due to racist comments. There were mall patrons who got out of line when they found out the new Santa was black. There was even a call to boycott the mall during the four days that retired U.S. Army veteran Larry Jefferson spent there as Santa.
“It’s senseless and ignorant for people to try to create negativity out of something that brings people together,” former NBA point guard Baron Davis told The Undefeated.
Like the Mall of America, Davis is also trying to encourage diversity with an African-American Santa Claus.
Davis was a two-time NBA All-Star during his injury-riddled career in which he averaged 16.2 points and 7.2 assists over 13 seasons. The Los Angeles native has moved on to Hollywood, where he is now focused on his acting and producing career. And during this Christmas season, Davis has also spearheaded The Black Santa Company.
“For African-Americans, Christmas is probably the biggest time we all get together and feel good about who we are and our families,” Davis said. “But it’s also a time where we do all we can to make sure that holiday is fulfilled. For me, if we are going to put that much emphasis on the holiday from a religious standpoint or not, we should have some type of representation, content and brand where someone is speaking for us.
“Every Christmas has the same Santa Claus and he looks different from us. My argument was there has to be more than one Santa Claus and there has to be a Santa Claus that represents black people.”
The Black Santa Company bills itself as a media company that creates “new characters, contemporary and engaging content, and high quality products celebrating diversity, fun and positivity.” Davis said the goal is to “inspire the world” by building diverse characters reflecting the change in American culture. Davis said The Black Santa Company has also created merchandise to reflect a more diverse America.
Davis came up with The Black Santa Company idea after he received a great response when he dressed up as Santa Claus during Halloween last year. After that, he trademarked “BlackSanta.com” and developed the company that he hopes will make people “celebrate the magic of good.”
“I just started doing a bunch of research, talking to people and finding people who collected black Santa Clauses,” Davis said. “They spend the whole month trying to find the right gear and the right stuff. For one, I didn’t want to have a company that wasn’t just about selling product. It was also about bringing us together, getting us in the spirit of giving, celebrating diversity in ourselves and others, being proud of who we are.
“And the joy of giving. It’s always better to give than receive.”
Davis said it was important to develop positive African-American characters that the rest of the world could see. The first character in The Black Santa Company is, quite naturally, a Black Santa Claus.
The character is a black Santa who actually seems to resemble Davis with a black beard and glasses. The company is selling black Santa sweaters, T-shirts, baby clothes, Christmas ornaments, wrapping paper and lapel pens. It also sells Christmas clothing with the words, “Be Spirited. Be Secure. Be Funny. Be Strong. Be Sensible. Be Successful. Be Spectacular.” Davis said there are some other characters on the way, such as a black Mrs. Claus.
“There are very few positive characters of the black experience or African-American culture that the rest of the world can look at and reflect on,” Davis said. “For me being a creative, I felt like black Santa could be that great entryway and great point of view into showing people who we are …
“Kids can dream and look forward to having that opportunity to be something by having a character that looks like them, talks like them and that they can relate to. Also, someone that is popping around year-round, because if we can fill that same holiday spirit we have at Christmas throughout the year, that is going to allow opportunities to do more, see more and grow more.”