It’s time to get the kids dressed and head down to the mall for that most time honoured of traditions—the Santa picture. Whether your baby is too little to know what’s going on or your 10-year-old is phasing Santa out of their holiday joy, this time of year means putting on their uncomfortable but cute holiday outfits, waiting in line for ages, and paying out the nose for another holiday treasure.
Jihan Woods a physician, mom and Hampton University alum, struggled to find a black Santa for her children during the holiday season so she created an app that helps parents locate a Black Santa in their area.
CBS News reports that Woods began a campaign to help her fund the app. She was able to raise $5,000 in about 30 days. “I crowdfunded through Kickstarter for 30 days and successfully funded the campaign raising $5,000. People loved the idea. I think once the app was published even more people understood the concept and my vision.”
The app is titled “Find Black Santa,” and it lists Black Santa’s that are available in 35 states and Washington D.C.
“After several years of trying to find a Santa that was relatable, that my children could identify with, I realized that, specifically, in Dallas, I wasn’t able to find a Santa that represented my family,” Woods said.
“Specifically for black children, it’s really important in racial and ethnic development that children see figures — whether it’s in the media, a mystical figure, like, Santa — because it’s really helpful for their development,” .
Terri Lipsey Scott, the executive director of Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum in St. Petersburg, FL said that families have driven close to an hour just to take a photo with the black Santa at their location. Scott said, “The turnout is incredible, there are so few options as it relates to the availability of having an African-American Santa. That self-esteem element even in the holiday season is so important.”
The app lists Santas in 35 states and Washington D.C. She’s even located them in London, Canada and Amsterdam.
Since creating the app, organizations have reached out to tell her about their black Santas and black Santas have asked her to list them for events.
Her success is not surprising, especially in a world where we’re learning how important cultural representation is. On her Kickstarter campaign page, Woods cites research that showed positive correlations between positive cultural beliefs and racial representation and higher self-esteem, better academic performance, and less risky behavior in children of color. When children have positive cultural and racial role models that lead to positive attitudes surrounding their culture and race, it changes everything.
The Find Black Santa app is available for both iPhone and Android.