Mall of America endures controversy over black Santa

The largest mall in the nation isn’t backing down to social media trolls. Here’s what happened—and its response to backlash.

Image by soulchristmas via / CC BY 2.0

When the Mall of America hired Larry Jefferson—an African-American man—to portray Santa Claus, its leadership predicted backlash. They were right.

Almost immediately, MOA social media users voiced their opinions, Many were harsh. The online dialogue became so threatening, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reportedly shut off its comments section on the story.

Even though much of the racist rhetoric captured headlines, most of the online comments were positive and support Jefferson and MOA.

Some made fun of the backlash:

“What they see most of the time is this red suit and candy,” Jefferson told Star Tribune reporters. “[Santa represents] a good spirit. I’m just a messenger to bring hope, love and peace to girls and boys.”

That’s tough to argue.

In Sweden, an advertisement for retailer Åhléns created some backlash of its own. In the questionable ad, a child of undetermined gender is dressed as a Lucia. It sparked similar controversy in that country, with an influx of negative and positive comments.

Topics: PR

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