Arkansas neighborhood unifies behind family after Black Santa display draws racist note

After a Black Santa display saw scorn form an anonymous detractor, more Black Santas go up on neighbors' lawns

Hoping to instill happiness and Black pride in his four-year-old daughter, Chris Kennedy of Little Rock, Arkansas put up a seven-foot Black Santa in his yard along with an inflatable Christmas tree and a large twinkling sign that reads “Joy.”

Since moving to the Lakewood neighborhood in 2017, his Christmas display has become a tradition, drawing praise over the years for the extravagant exhibit.

Until now.

According to the Washington Post, Kennedy received an anonymous racist note in the mail just before Thanksgiving. The message condemned Kennedy’s choice in Christmas décor.

A Black Santa display in a Little Rock, Arkansas neighborhood by Chris Kennedy drew a racist response from an anonymous detractor, which led neighbors to support Kennedy with their own Black Santa displays. (via Chris Kennedy Facebook page)

“Please remove your negro Santa Claus yard decoration,” the letter signed “Santa Claus” demanded. “You should not try to deceive children into believing that I am a negro. I am a caucasian (white man, to you) and have been for the past 600 years. You being jealous of my race is no excuse for our dishonesty.”

Read More: Neighbors send racist letter to Kansas family: ‘This neighborhood does not need any blacks’

Stunned and horrified by the hateful message, Kennedy, 33, read the note over a live stream on his Facebook account.

“I am trying to be as nice as I can in this very moment because I am actually filled with rage,” Kennedy said in his live stream.

After sharing the letter on Facebook, Kennedy received an outpouring of support from neighbors, and then something magical happened.

The neighbors rallied in solidarity with the Kennedy family, and slowly but surely, Black Santas began popping up on the lawns of Lakewood. According to WaPo, so many of Kennedy’s neighbors have ordered Black Santas that retailers are apparently running low on supply.

In a separate Facebook post, Kennedy explained that he had “over 850 messages” in his inbox “full of encouragement and support from around the world,” saying that his family is “completely overwhelmed with all the love and support.”

I have over 850 messages in my inbox. They are full of encouragement and support from around the world. I can’t respond…

Posted by Chris Kennedy on Sunday, November 29, 2020

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The Kennedys now have two Black Santas on their lawn after a man from New York heard about the story and shipped one to them.

CNN reported that Black residents in neighborhoods outside of Lakewood have contacted Kennedy to share their stories about racist remarks and gestures.

According to the 2019 Census Bureau, African Americans comprise 44.7% of the population in Little Rock.

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