Representation Matters: This Black Santa Is Bringing the Gift of Diversity to a Mall Near You


January 7, 2023

This is what we like to see!

While working as a holiday photographer in Crabtree Valley Mall, Stafford Braxton was often asked by shoppers if a Black Santa would be present for pictures. After advocating tirelessly for one to be on site, these shoppers were often disappointed by the mall’s lack of effort. Braxton told WRAL, “We’re not even trying to take over the chair — just give us a one-time event to let the people know that, ‘hey, we hear you.’”


In 2012 Braxton found Santa Warren, a Black Santa! A year later, he started Santa Just Like Me, bringing a much needed gift to all the little Black boys and girls on the East Coast.

This North Carolina company hosts an annual event at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, bringing families together to take pictures with the Santa they’ve been wishing for. Two years ago, Braxton was approached by a grandmother who was in tears after seeing her granddaughter with Black Santa. “And she had me crying, and of course I did not let her pay for those pictures,” Braxton said. “There are countless stories like that. Parents that are just so appreciative that we’re doing this, that we’re giving them the opportunity.”

Currently, Braxton and Santa Warren are traveling to various malls in N.C. and V.A. to spread Christmas cheer. The CEO hopes other businesses in the area catch on to the demand and prioritize representation. In the future, he plans to become a nonprofit so he can bring Santa to areas in need.


“I think businesses are waking up, you know, and I’m seeing more Black Santa decorations in stores than I’ve ever seen. It does my heart good to see that,” Braxton said.

Photo: valentinrussanov / Getty

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