Black Joy

Black Santa for the culture! | Black Joy – December 24, 2021

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Do you hear those sleigh bells jingling?

In the words of the Jackson 5, Santa Claus is coming to town! So my friend and colleague Alexis Wray and I have been working hard to bring you the gift of melanin magic this Christmas Eve. Grab yourself a mug full of hot cocoa or whatever spirits get you into the holiday spirit as we chat about those who made sure your Christmas was full of Black representation.

As you know, Black Joy is the gift that keeps on giving. So please consider sharing this newsletter with your friends and fam.

— From your favorite elves, Starry Knight (Starr) and Lil’ Sunshine on the Shelf (Alexis)

A Santa for the culture 

It’s a holiday tradition that almost everyone enjoys: Your fam takes a trip to your local mall or department store to take picture with good ol’ Saint Nick.

Aisha Harris and her fiancé Tim Davis remember taking those trips when they were younger. They recall the joy of the moment, but they also remember one key detail – Santa was always white. Aisha grew up thinking Black Santas were nonexistent because white Santas were such a norm throughout her childhood.

Now a 38-year-old professional photographer near Dallas, Aisha decided to do something for Black children and their families – a Christmas photoshoot featuring Tim as their Black Santa.

On her professional Facebook page, Aisha quotes Dr. Suess, “Sometimes you never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”

“I wanted to give them a lasting memory,” Aisha said. “We’re gonna be old one of these days, and these little kids – some of them as young as two months old – they’re gonna look back and he’s gonna be on somebody’s photo up on their wall and their baby books.”

Initially unsure he had the confidence to pull off Black Santa, Tim quickly got into character. Aisha hunted down a Santa costume online and found a pair of round rim glasses. They grabbed some hairspray to make Tim’s beard snowy white.

Tim’s performance anxiety quickly melted away once the photo sessions began. He basked in the joy of getting to know the families as they awed at posing with a Black Santa. Twin brothers, Karson and Kash, smiled as Tim read “Does Santa Look Like Me?” by Ariel Young. After one photoshoot, Tim said a grandmother was so excited to see a Black Santa that she asked to take solo pictures with him.

“I never thought that I would be doing anything like this ever in my life because it wasn’t my vibe at first,” Tim said. “But now I understand it’s bigger than me. I think the generation that’s coming up – the younger kids and the babies – I think they need to see the representation and know that this is very important to our Black culture.”

Aisha said it was cute watching the shy and timid children warm up to the photoshoot. She understood their nervousness. To them, they were meeting THE Santa Claus. But Aisha’s patience, creativity and a gift from Santa’s bag made the children more comfortable. And these presents weren’t just photo props, y’all. Tim and Aisha actually purchased Hot Wheels, Black dolls and other toys for the kiddos to keep.

Tim said his favorite moment of joy wasn’t just about the photoshoots. Aisha Harris Photography will be a year old in January. He proudly watched fiancée skills grow as they worked together to increase representation while spreading the Christmas cheer.

“I would like to give a lot of credit to Aisha because without her none of this would be possible. She has so much talent and a great heart for photography,” Tim said. “I believe Black Santa was more than just Black Santa. Those pictures captured a spiritual moment as Black families came together as one.”

One Santa. Two Santa. Black Santa. Blue Santa.

Hi, ya’ll! Alexis (AKA Lil’ Sunshine on The Shelf) back at you this week rooting for everything Black – that means Black Santa Claus, Black Mrs. Claus, Black angels, and Black nutcrackers. I don’t know about you, but I want to see Black representation reflected on everything this holiday season, from wrapping paper and Christmas cards to coffee mugs and footy pajamas.

Rooting for everything Black also means supporting Black-owned businesses. So as it’s “Beginning to look a lot like Christmas” I have three Black-owned businesses to ensure “You Have a Merry Little Christmas”… if you can’t tell I love Christmas music.

  • “Joyful, Merry and Black” is what Lucky and Lovely, a gift boutique based out of Atlanta, is calling their “Black Santa Magic” collection. And Black Santa is on everything! If you’re still looking for a gift for your most merry and melanated friends, Check out Lucky and Lovely’s Black Santa socks and Black Santa earrings.
  • Spreading a love for the culture can look like a lot of things. But for Culture Wraps, a Tennessee-based wrapping paper company, it looks like community building for artists of color to express their traditions. Their catalog of wrapping papers is a variety of Kente Cloth designs, Black families during the holidays, and even Afro picks.
  • Christmas customization is key and Shawn Russel, a local artist from Greenville, S.C., is providing that this holiday season with custom-made and diverse nutcrackers. If you want your nutcracker to be 6’1, Black, with waves, and a beard, Russel can customize just what you need… or is that really just what I need for Christmas.

Merry Christmas to y’all and may it be full of Black joy! See ya’ next week!

The Reckon Report.
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