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'Representation matters' says downtown Kalamazoo’s first Black Santa Claus

Posted at 8:11 PM, Dec 20, 2019

Over the last few weeks, kids have asked Dominick Williams for a number of things, he said. Boys have asked for the new Nintendo Switch. Girls want America Girl dolls. Some kids didn’t request anything. While others looked at him and cried.

However, so far, only a very few have asked whether or not he was the real Santa Claus.

“Of course I tell them,” Williams said during an interview with FOX 17. “Absolutely, I’m the real Santa. There’s only one me.”

Since Thanksgiving Wiliams has appeared at the Epic Center in downtown Kalamazoo, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., wearing his typical red and white Santa suit along with the beard and hat to match.

According to the Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership, who puts on the Santa’s Workshop event, Williams is the first Black Santa Claus they've hired in years.

“We love that,” said Niecia Anjorin, whose family is of African and Asian descent. “We’re a pretty diverse looking family. We appreciate that there has been another option this year.”

Anjorin and her husband, along with their three kids, were among the dozens of families who showed up to see Williams last Sunday. KDP said they hired a Black Santa because they wanted to reflect the city’s cultural diversity. They even included black elves in their displays.

“Everything you see in stores is White Santa,” said Katie Miller, a White mom who attended the event with her toddler son Rowan who’s Black. “We wanted him to be able to see you know a Santa that looked like him.”

Miller said representation matters. Williams agreed.

“Being able to see such a huge role like Santa Claus be portrayed by somebody who looks like me is huge for the development of young Black people who look like me,” Williams said. “They get an opportunity to experience a Santa Claus who could be their uncle or their dad or big brother or cousin.”

KDP said there is another Santa who works on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. However since Williams joined the team, attendance has skyrocketed.

They're already thinking of bringing him back next year.

“I want all families to know that just because it’s been a Black Santa experience, it’s definitely for everybody,” Williams said.