This holiday season marked a monumental time at Disneyland and Disney World, when Disney added Black Santa Clauses to their parades for the first time in parks history! The news caused celebrations all over social media, and the decision was as welcome as it was overdue.
We connected with a few exceptional Black Disney creators on social media to garner their reactions to the news and share their responses with our Perfecting the Magic readers!
Terry M. Pendleton
You may remember Terry M. Pendleton from our November 2020 interview, where we highlighted his dashing Dapper online presence. Pendleton, (@TheMostDapperFella), was excited about the change. His reaction was, in part, brought on by what his younger self needed to see.
“I know as a kid I would have loved to see more people who looked like me when it came to the holidays,” he said. “I’m genuinely surprised it took Disney this long to move forward with a decision like this.”
He explains that the casting decision helps motivate him as a Disney creator, as he believes cultural representation is essential and recognizes that he inspires others. He hopes that future castings include other groups like the Asian, Latinx, and Native communities, stating:
“Disney means so much to me, it’s always been a place where dreams come true, and you can forget the pains of the world for a while. It’s one of the things in my life that I have found true comfort in. I can be at the parks and forget the stresses of my daily life. For me, Disney means there’s still magic left in the world.”
If you need parenting, travel, or fitness inspiration (or better yet, all three), you don’t need to look much further than Jocelyn Green. Green (@momrunsdisney) welcomed the change as a mom, as she knew its impact on her son, who would love to see a Santa that looks like him.
“… It’s great to finally have a Santa that looks like me and to be able to capture moments with someone who looks like [us],” she said. “It’s long overdue.”
Like Pendleton, Green sees the casting decision as a step in the right direction for inclusivity. As a fan, she “applauds” what the company is doing to make the parks a place for all people.
“For me, Disney is a safe place, for not only me, but for my son as well,” Green said. “It represents a place to dream and be free. It’s a place of Magic!”
Samie Ro (@findingsamie) said the casting choice “expands the limitations of imagination” and that having a Black Santa at Disney could send a ripple through society.
“I grew up with Black representations of Christmas in my home—a Black angel as a tree topper, Black Santa on a cookie jar,” she said. “So, my spectrum of Santa has always included blackness. Now so many people can see Santa the way I have, and I can’t wait to take my nephews to see the Magic of Santa beyond our home.”
Ro explained that, as a Disney Bounder, she recreates characters as POC or BIPOC, and it’s her most well-loved content and states that “where positive representation and influence meet, there is advancement! Disney is everywhere, so other companies will surely follow suit.”
Like so many other Disney fans, Ro sees Disney as a place where imagination is limitless, and age is nothing but a number. Inclusivity in casting allows Disney to make their parks a place for everyone to feel at home, without exclusion.
“Disney is where I can free myself of any worries,” Ro says. “Hakuna Matata. It’s where I can be a kid again: laughing down the Jungle Cruise waterway, cheering on my favorite heroes—and villains; Soarin’ all around the world. Many call it their happy place, and I must agree, but every day, it comes closer to home.”
Everyone is Magic
We couldn’t agree more. We’re thrilled to see inclusivity and representation increase in Disney Parks, and we’re hopeful that Disney will continue to expand their efforts to ensure sure that everyone knows that they’re part of the magic.