Why Is The Little Mermaid Black More Important Than You Think?
When told to black girl
who can play the being cheese
What will your people know?
When holding the breath
— Jasmine Mance, The Little Mermaid
In 2010, it was announced that Halle Bailey had been cast as Ariel in the upcoming live-action The little mermaid. Almost immediately, social networks were filled with comments like “my mermaid is not black,” which minimizes not only Bailey’s talent, but the importance of representation.
At this point in the story, the scene is the expected one: Disney create a black character While fans stress over internet trolling and depressed toddlers living in their parents’ basements using the term “social justice warriors” as an insult, people who value diversity and representation rejoice.
But what is the difference between the mermaid black? A lot, especially if you’re a girl of color who was raised to believe that princesses, heroes, and the like were invariably white.
Even those of us who support the greater representation of children’s films may not recognize that the creation of Disney from one little mermaid black goes beyond adding more variety to the world of princesses.
The importance of representation
The problem isn’t just that Disney princesses were overwhelmingly white for the first 55 years of their princess-free animated legacy. black for the next 70. It’s not just that girls with brown hair and black they never saw themselves as Disney princesses. Not only were women and girls of color underrepresented in these iconic lead roles, they were also overrepresented in other ways.
Disney has created black characters in the past. For example, Mickey Mouse was born as a cartoon face black. So the problem is not only the representation, but the kind of representation we get. the way girls black have been portrayed in Disney productions, the blatantly racist images and messages that have been consumed by the public for decades make people’s arguments against the black mermaid even more ridiculous and make the main characters black greater importance.
Angelica Sampson explained in a viral Facebook post why simply stating that performance is important fails to paint the full picture and instead sanitizes the reality that girls have been subjected to black throughout Disney’s history.
“The girls black Like my mother, they not only had to use their imaginations to insert themselves into the positive narratives of Disney,” writes Sampson, “rather, they had to consciously resist being influenced by images like that of the original Fantasia (1940).
Sunflower was a centaur who existed to serve the white centaurs.
She was petite and aside from her brown skin tone, she was drawn without the fantastic pastel colors that the other centaurs possessed.
She was a naked girl with the lower body of a mule, made to serve older women.”
“I want you to fully understand that she was deliberately drawn without clothes to indicate her low social status,” Sampson added. In an animated fantasy film for young children, the girls black they were represented by a picanini named Sunflower. She combs white women’s hair and files their nails.”
And this was not the only example of racist representation of women black in the films of Disney.
“The girls black they sat in the chimney sweep scene from Mary Poppins (1964), where the admiral jokes that they were attacked by “Hottentots,” Sampson continued.
“It’s a line many of you might miss today, but in 1964 it was a funny joke.
“Hottentot” is a racial slur used to describe the Khoisan people of South Africa. In the 19th century, Europeans were so fascinated by women’s big, high buttocks and labia black from that region, which were routinely kidnapped and paraded around the world for display in circuses or lavish private parties, where the wealthy might even pay for the privilege. to touch them.
The most famous of these African women was a girl named Saartjie or Sara Baartman.
She was advertised under the name “Hottentot Venus” and after her popularity waned, she was forced into prostitution.
Died of pneumonia or syphilis at age 24.
After her death, her body was dismembered, and her lips and brain were preserved and displayed in a museum in France. This was done in the name of “racial science”.
They were not withdrawn until 1974.
I found out about her when I was 9 years old because I asked my mother what a Hottentot was and she told me the truth.
So when you see posts that say girls black They have NEVER been recognized by Disney, please understand that this is not true.
Even in fairy tales, whites still imagine women and girls black as beasts of burden.
Even in fantasy we have degraded.
Even Princess Tiana was the daughter of a housekeeper. His happily ever after was getting a loan.
So excuse us for being excited to see a girl black portrayed as a GHOSTLY MERMAID with BEAUTIFUL FINS and an ANGELIC voice and the freedom to collect trinkets, sing and have silly girl problems!’
“To swim as a synonym for freedom
Sampson also discussed the added meaning of having a mermaid black due to the social perception that people black they don’t swim. He pointed out that this is only because black people have been denied the opportunity to learn to swim for millennia. It begins during the era of slavery, when a slave who knows how to swim is easier to escape. After independence, blacks were barred from public swimming pools, and housing discrimination prevented them from living in houses or pool communities, a segregation that was forcibly enforced by some whites. Even white-centric norms of beauty influenced women black who learned to swim by being encouraged to chemically straighten their hair. Because prejudice in America prevented generations of parents from learning to swim, they failed to educate their children.
“Yet in some circles, even today,” notes Sampson, “the tragedy of black Americans avoiding the water is seen as amusing and indicative of our own inadequacy. And yes, even today you can read stories about families black wholes die because one child started drowning and one by one the older children jumped in to save them, resulting in the death of a dozen people.
So yeah, I’m excited that girls black see Ariel black and i want to swim I’m glad that a company as influential as Disney is involved in changing the negative images of girls black have been absorbed throughout the history of the United States.
I’m so excited I’ll probably cry a few times before this movie comes out.
Let’s stop denying black children the luxury of fantasy.”
While we’re at it, let’s encourage insecure white people to stop blowing the whistle every time Disney does something that upsets the status quo.
There’s a lot of historical damage to repair, and if a fictional black mermaid threatens your existence in any way, shape, or form, you’re part of the problem. Sit back and listen to the people whose lives have been affected by this character’s presence, because their voices are what really matter here.
Jennifer Rubio, better known as Ciguapa, is a Dominican educator and writer. She spreads about anti-racism and feminism through social media and has worked as a music teacher in the Dominican Republic. It is part of the AFROntera collective.