A young child in neatly plaited hair sits on the lap of a Santa Claus character in a red suit with whit trim, a red and white hat and white gloves. Both the boy and the actor are Black. All Smiles at the Jingle Jam in Charlotte's Five Points Neighborhood
Zakai Haley couldn't wait to meet Santa in Charlotte on Dec. 8, 2021. The jolly face looked a bit more like his own. The event also featured a S'mores station, an arts and crafts table to make your own ornament and music, but Zakai only had eyes for Claus. (Rukiya Kelly for Cardinal & Pine)

Black Santas are more popular than ever among families of all races. Here’s why, and where you can see some Black Santas this holiday season in North Carolina.

Growing up, a few special factors made every Christmas holiday special: the roaring fireplace, mugs of hot cocoa, and the unwrapping of our Black Santa figurine. My grandmother, a ceramic artist, made it in the 1950s and it became a prized family heirloom. Even now, it’s kept bubble-wrapped, boxed and sealed all year until the first day of December, when his flirty wink is lovingly unleashed. I never saw a Black Santa in real life, however, until I was an adult.

Kids in recent years are luckier. Across North Carolina, a growing number of organizations are making the effort to showcase Black Santas at the holidays, and Cardinal & Pine has assembled a list below of where you can find them. Here’s why parents say it matters.

“It’s important to see your own on a platform like this,” said Reshika Barfield, a Charlotte native. She never saw a Black Santa as a child, so she and her husband Deshaun made sure to bring their five-year-old Elijah to Jingle Jam, a community event held in Five Points Wednesday evening. 

There was a S’mores station, music, and a crafts table where kids could make their own ornaments, but the biggest draw was the promise of a soulful Saint Nick. 

“It means a big deal to me for my son to see this,” Reshika said.

“Seeing someone like [a Black Santa] in this community will help him see that there’s not just one way, or one Santa,” Deshaun agreed. 

“Representation is really important,” Rukiya Kelly told Cardinal & Pine. Another Jingle Jam attendee, Kelly’s four-year-old son Zakai, danced with excitement as he lined up with a dozen other families to take pictures with Santa. 

“We try to put him in the best schools we can and sometimes that means he doesn’t get to see many people who look like him,” Kelly said. “So when it comes to a cultural figure like Santa Claus, to show him there are Black Santas as well as white is important.” 

Matthw Chaundry, who is white, lined up with his children Elizabeth and Will for pictures with Jingle Jam’s Santa as well. 

“It’s very important so they can understand different parts of our culture and see different parts of our city, and know that not everyone looks the same but everyone is the same underneath,” Chaundry said. “And everyone is a good person and deserves a good Christmas.”

Here are a few events where your family can find Black Santas across North Carolina. Some require tickets, registration or time slots for photo sessions, so be sure to check with event organizers for full details.

Black Santa Events

  • Dec. 10, A Santa Like ME, 3-6 p.m. $15. Bloom Room Ballroom, 508 Griffith Road, Charlotte 
  • Dec. 11, Black Santa, 2-5 p.m. 750 King Richard Rd, Raleigh
  • Dec. 11-12, Our Black Santa, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $97, reservation required. 4822 Six Forks Road, Suite 204, Raleigh
  • Dec. 12,  Meet Black Santa, 2-7 p.m. $25.  Dynasty Events, 8400 Bellhaven Blvd #A, Charlotte
  • Dec. 18-19, Selfies with Black Santa, 2:30-5 p.m. $12. Expressions Of Choice 2 Beauty Lounge, 5211 W. Market St. D, Greensboro

You can also book photoshoots with The Wright Santa in Wake County. Santa’s Just Like Me in Greensboro provides in-studio photo shoots or in-home sessions.