Chris Kennedy, who received the letter, read the note on Facebook live and said they had asked him to leave the neighborhood.
Trigger warning: Racism, Race-motivated violence
With Christmas around the corner, Chris Kennedy had put out a seven-foot Black Santa figure in his yard along with a sign reading "Joy." Within days Kennedy received an anonymous racist letter slamming him for portraying Santa Claus as 'Black' in his yard on North Little Rock, Arkansas, and also told him he was "jealous" of the White race. Kennedy moved into the neighborhood in 2017 and has never faced any problems but the racist note has left him shaken. "You should not try to deceive children into believing that I am a n*gro. You being jealous of my race is no excuse for your dishonesty," read the letter, which was signed Santa Claus, reported CNN. The note also had an image of a White Santa with two thumbs down.
Chris Kennedy went live on Facebook and read the letter out. "I am trying to be as nice as I can in this very moment because I am actually filled with rage," said Kennedy during the live stream. Taped to the front of the envelope was an image that resembled the Lakewood Property Owners Association's (LPOA) logo. The LPOA officials said it had nothing to do with the letter and condemned the racist note. Lakewood Property Owners Association executive director Evan Blake paid Kennedy a visit to let him know they had nothing to do with the racist note and gave him a free membership to the LPOA as a gesture to let him know that his family was part of the community. "We have never had anyone attack anyone based on their race," said Blake. "Racism is something that we do discriminate against and we will not stand for it."
The racist letter had also told Chris Kennedy to leave the community. "The real thing that angered me was the fact that the person who wrote it suggested I move out east where I guess they feel all black people live," said Kennedy. He knows the intention is to scare people into taking down the decorations. "I feel like it's a combination of politics and actual racism," said Kennedy. "I am not sure that it was solely about just the black Santa display as much as it was legitimately just racism, in general." For Kennedy, putting up a Black Santa Claus wasn't about making a statement but reliving the memories of his father, who often went to great lengths to celebrate Christmas. Kennedy's father passed away 15 years ago on Thanksgiving Day. "Putting up Christmas displays reminds me of him," Kennedy said of his father. "The main reason we put out the display is to bring joy to the neighborhood and brighten it up a little bit."
The community of North Little Rock has let Kennedy know that they're firmly behind him. Many members of the community are now ordering Black Santas to display on their lawn to show their support for Kennedy. "People are buying black Santas and trying to flood the neighborhood," said Blake, before confirming that LPOA had ordered their own Black Santa figure. As much as Kennedy appreciates the support from the community by lining up 'Black Santas' on their front yard, he said he'd prefer if they donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas for the children, this Christmas. "There are still loving and caring individuals out there," said Kennedy, before adding. "I know that my neighborhood has definitely lifted us up." Many African-American residents in North Little Rock have reached out to him, sharing similar stories of racist gestures and remarks aimed at them. Close to 45% of the population in North Little Rock are African-Americans, as per the 2019 US Census Bureau.