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Disney’s Ariel is Black and #NotMyAriel Racists Can’t Change That

This post must begin with the biggest of all shout outs to the lovely, talented, sweetheart of an actress/singer Halle Bailey! She snagged the role of Ariel in Disney’s forthcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid and she’s gunna slay!

The news broke and I was overjoyed. You may not know this but, I happen to live with a 5 year old Black mermaid named Kaya, so I was excited that I’d be able to take her to the movies soon to see “herself” on the big screen.

I go online and expect to see more excitement about the casting choice because little Halle is:

a) gorgeous as all get out! seriously she looks like a delicate flower fairy creature of some sort and her skin is like buttah

b) an amazing singer/musician who is gunna make “Part of Your World” sound ethereal AF; and

c) an unexpected, but totally perfect when you think about it, choice

Alas…. I did not find more excitement. Well, that’s not true. I did. From a small subset of the population. Black women, Non-Black POC mothers, and some white Disney fans. However, what I found on Disney sites/groups, and of course the alt-right cesspool known as twitter, was…

…wait for it…

RACISM!

Surprise surprise!

White people are mad that Ariel is Black.

Yes. This is actually real life.

I repeat, white people are mad that a fictional cartoon character is being played by a Black actress in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.

How committed to white supremacy do you have to be, to be upset about a fictional character’s casting choice not being in your image?

Where was the white outrage when Angelina Jolie played Mariane Pearl (an actual real life biracial human) in A Mighty Heart? Or when Ben Affleck played a Latino in Argo? Or when Emma Stone played an Asian chick in Aloha?

No white pearls are clutched or eyes batted at the white cast voicing African lions in The Lion King, or the white cast (with American accents, mind you) voicing Middle Eastern characters in Disney’s original Aladdin?

Where was the outrage then? Where were the hashtags then, white friends?

FACT: There is no white outrage for white erasure of color. They just expect to see themselves centered and will whitewash anything to ensure they remain centered. And when people of color speak out on it, we’re “sensitive” or “playing victim” or “playing the race card.” (Cuz remember….Obama…so…racism is over.)

Any bit of inclusion is seen as a threat to those who cloak themselves in the “safety” of white supremacy.

White people are so used to seeing their image be the default, that they’ll get up in arms about a cartoon mermaid NOT being white. Mind you, there are talking fish, singing lobsters and an entire lavender sea witch…which is totes okay. That Black mermaid though….that’s just going too far for this fairytale.

Clearly I was watching a different movie as a kid. In The Little Mermaid I saw, Ariel’s skin color was not an integral part of the plot.

THIS IS WHY WE SAY #REPRESENTATIONMATTERS, PEOPLE!

Black, brown, yellow, red, green, polka dot, we ALL need to see our images on the big screen in positive ways. It isn’t okay for my son to see the white knight and the Black convict. The Asian doctor and the Latino gang member. Black mermaids, doctors, lawyers…. any positive protagonist are integral to the psyches of my brown kids and all the children of color consuming images in media.

I shared a link to an article from Buzzfeed entitled “25 times a white person played a person of color in a movie and no one gave a sh*t.” (NOTE: Fail for you, Buzzfeed, because Black people have long been speaking out about being whitewashed in films. Hollywood’s practically got blonde haired blue eyed chicks playing native Nigerians in movies and we’re supposed to just accept it. Ugh. Shame on you for not recognizing that, Buzzfeed.)

Anyhow, when I posted the link, as expected, a hit dog hollered. (And for those who aren’t familiar with the phrase, I just mean a racist commenter popped up)

I wont post it all because…it was ridiculous but you can find it on my FB page if you care to watch her foolishness unfold.

Hey, quick tip for all the tiki torchers reading this: If you want to more closely blend in with the white people who aren’t racist, try this: Don’t begin any statement with “I’m not racist, but:” You just give yourself away faster. (Fun Fact: we knew you were racist before you said it anyway….)

This commenter is representative of so many unthinking, status quo, “acceptably racist” white women I come in contact with. They’re not racist because they have a Black friend at work, speak kindly to the Black cashier and have never said “the N word.” Well newsflash Becks, that’s just being a decent human. Doesn’t mean you’re not racist.

::ahem::

BEING UPSET ABOUT A BLACK ACTRESS BEING CHOSEN FOR THE ROLE OF A MERMAID IN A MOVIE IS RACIST!

How this isn’t understood in July 2019 is mind boggling.

Further mind boggle-ation comes from groups on facebook such as “Christians against Little Mermaid” and the #NotMyAriel movement. Now, I may be a heathen, but I’m pretty sure Jesus Christ wouldn’t be retweeting the vitriol posted under that hashtag. WWJD?!

Just when I think we’ve hit peak white fragility, something like this comes along and proves me wrong. This cartoon mermaid is clearly hitting many a nerve, and honestly…I’m here for it. F em all!

Show yourselves. Out yourselves. Keep hollerin, hit dogs. Let us know who to block and release from our lives. Be mad. Stay mad. Ariel is Black and your hashtag won’t change that.

But my kid is going to grow up with a Disney princess that looks like her on the big screen (and will not be a frog for 95% of the movie) and that is what matters to me. I certainly didn’t have that. Neither did my mom, or hers. We saw white-skinned princesses and Black skin criminalized.

While I’m annoyed that it takes til 2019 to have something like this happen, I’m still glad it is now vs later. For my brown babies and your white ones. Your white children need to see Black and Brown faces and bodies normalized vs criminalized. Your white children need to see Black doctors, lawyers and mermaids on the big screen as much as my children do.

Maybe normalizing Blackness through mainstream media like this will lead to a generation of white people less bound to the tenets of white supremacy.

Maybe normalizing Blackness through mainstream media will lead to police that will view Black bodies as human brothers and sisters and not moving targets for shooting practice.

Shout out to Disney for this perfect casting choice and shout out to Freeform for this delightful dragging:

I’ll end this on that note. Let’s all just hope there comes a day when the race of a fairytale mermaid is not a topic of concern. I mean we have much bigger fish to fry. (Sorry, Sebastian)

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Hailey

Friday 2nd of August 2019

I like the point of this argument. As an 18 year old begining law school, I do think its important that we realize that race is race. You are still a human, and you should be chosen for your talents and skill set, not the color of your skin. However, the over generalization of the classic white person strikes me as slightly broad and unrealistic. Talking amongst my friends in a very conservative town in northern Utah, i have found that many agree with the casting choice. These are MAINLY white young adults, along with a few of different races. I loved your argument, i just believe it to be slightly pointed and from what I gathered you have every right to be. I just believe it seems to discredit much of many very good opinions

Dani

Friday 2nd of August 2019

You feel MY opinion discredits other opinions. Oh, OK.

Jamie

Tuesday 9th of July 2019

I absolutely love this!! Great job!

Dani

Friday 2nd of August 2019

Thank you!

Sheena

Tuesday 9th of July 2019

I saw about the casting on your post, and my first thought was she is perfect. Her facial expression and voice are Ariel. I’ve personally been avoiding the live action Disney movies because I just don’t want to deal with childhood memories coming up. That said I will be taking my translucent skin white kids to see this one, because they need to see people of colour in positive protagonist media, break those subtle filters of cultural racist programming one movie/tv show at a time. I’m excited to see this beautiful mermaid on the big screen and the fan art already out has been amazing!

Dani

Friday 2nd of August 2019

YAY!! I'm glad you're taking the kids. I did chuckle at translucent. Thanks for reading and YES the fan art has been so beautiful. Worth a separate post all its own.

Jenn Corter

Tuesday 9th of July 2019

People make me so sad. I am super DANG excited to see Halle portray Ariel. She's gonna kick ass at it! She is gorgeous!

Dani

Friday 2nd of August 2019

She IS gunna kick ass. And she is totally beautiful something angelic about her too and like she can play the almost naive ariel role perfectly.

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