Opelika couple, professional Santa share importance of holiday inclusion
COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The holiday is a time for many families to celebrate their traditions, some even culturally. However, some people would like more inclusion in holiday decor and characters.
Cheryl and Ulysses Cooper began their Black Santa journey working in a Florida school system.
“We have four daughters, and when they were young, we realized that representation truly, truly mattered. So, it was our mission to introduce the children of our school and our children, that Santa was indeed about love and love is many colors,” said Cheryl.
More than found decades later, the retired couple has 100′s of items displaying what is known as Black Santa. They even donate their time through their own funds to give kids in the area the opportunity to see a universal Santa.
“Just to see children when they see someone who looks like them, to see yourself or the possibility of yourself is amazing.”
According to RealSanta.com, less than three percent of professional Santas are minorities.
The Black Santa of Atlanta and Columbus native Santa Andre is trying to change that, making appearances across the state. He says his personal experiences inspired him.
“I didn’t think about it until I became an adult, realizing I never saw a Black Santa. That’s one of the reasons why we decided to go this route was to fill the gap.”
For those who may not understand, they all say the inclusion help future generations, but color has no boundaries.
“What I want to do is normalize seeing a Black Santa. That way, there’s no second looks, it’s very important that our communities have these characters such as Santa that look and sound like me.”
This year stores like Target, Michael and even Dollar General have sold items like gift bags and wrapping paper that display Black, brown and Hispanic images of people on decor.
Copyright 2022 WTVM. All rights reserved.