He has received nothing but compliments since he first moved to North Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2017.
But just before this year’s Thanksgiving, he received a letter from an anonymous racist note condemning the courtyard ornaments.
“You shouldn’t try to deceive the kids into believing I’m a Negro,” the letter, signed with “Santa Claus,” said. “Being jealous of my species is no excuse for your infidelity.”
“At this moment, I’m trying to be as kind as I can because I’m full of rage,” Kennedy said in a live broadcast.
The video also revealed a picture of a white Santa Claus, two thumbs down, and a label resembling the Lakewood Owners Association (LPOA) logo was affixed to the front of the envelope.
“The real thing that angered me was that the person who wrote it suggested I move east where I think all black people live,” Kennedy told CNN.
The LPOA had nothing to do with the letter, Evan Blake, executive director of the Lakewood Association of Property Owners, told CNN.
Blake said he visited Kennedy and his family to condemn the letter. He also gave the LPOA a free membership, as a guarantee that Kennedy was largely a member of the North Little Rock community.
“We never attacked anyone based on their race,” Blake said. “Racism is something we discriminate and we will not stand up for it.”
The decorations are reminiscent of family traditions
Kennedy suspects what motivated the stranger to send the insensitive letter and worries that someone will try to take off his ornaments.
“I feel like it’s a combination of politics and actual racism,” Kennedy told CNN. “I’m not sure it was just the black Santa display, just as it was legally just racism.”
Other North Little Rock residents living in different neighborhoods contacted Kennedy to share similar stories about racist remarks and gestures. According to the 2019 U.S. Census Bureau, 44.7 percent of the North Small Rock population is made up of African Americans.
For Kennedy, it’s not just about the color of Santa’s skin, but a rich family tradition that evokes beautiful childhood memories of looking at intricate light displays with his father, who passed away on Thanksgiving more than 15 years ago. Every year on Halloween, Kennedy, his wife and 4-year-old daughter decorate early in the festive season.
“Placing Christmas displays reminds me of that,” Kennedy said of his father. “The main reason for the display is to get pleasure in the area and explore it a bit.”
Black Santas are flooding the area
And the community is no better gathered behind its back than spreading the same Christmas fun on its own lawn.
“People are buying black Santa Claus and trying to flood the area,” Blake said.
The LPOA plans to exhibit a black Santa Claus in his office as soon as he arrives in the mail.
While he appreciates the army of black Santa Clauses lining his street and the kind notes of neighbors disgusted by the act, Kennedy says he would prefer people to donate to Ronald McDonald House charities in Arkansas for children who don’t get home at home. families at Christmas.
“Keep smiling, keep God first, and move forward,” Kennedy wants to share this message with anyone who may be struggling with similar racist incidents during these contentious periods.
“There are still loving and caring individuals,” Kennedy said. “I know my neighborhood has definitely lifted us.”