I already did this on Facebook, so I may as well cover it here.
Let’s get our priorities straight, America. There are far more pressing issues to get upset about than Disney casting Halle Bailey as Ariel in the live-action version of The Little Mermaid. Having said that, this is an issue that I DO have an opinion on, so let’s have a go at it.
Halle Bailey is a gorgeous young lady and–I hear–a wonderful singer. Those cheekbones alone win my vote. She absolutely deserves to play the role that she has been given, and little Black girls deserve to see as many positive Black role models on the big screen as possible.
For the record, I’m not crazy about Black “versions” of White characters any more than I like whitewashed “versions” of people of color. I prefer to see us in original roles, setting a new standard of how America sees us.
Which brings me to why I believe Disney really made this move. If it was about promoting multiculturalism or diversity, Ariel would have been Black in the animated movie thirty years ago. No…this is about the power of Black Dollars, which currently has more value to America than Black Lives.
In 2018, the movie Black Panther became a billion (with a B)-dollar box-office success. Disney, who co-produced the movie, did not expect that to happen, evidenced by its piss-poor merchandising campaign. Our community was in an uproar over the severe lack of collectibles that Marvel AND Disney could have made a killing on. They consciously chose not to at least capitalize on the movie’s strong female characters by producing a line of collectible dolls. A year later, after much backlash reminding them that the Shuri character is technically a “Disney Princess”, Disney called itself throwing us a bone by putting out a “Special Edition” Shuri Doll. A year later. Nothing else since then. Thanks a lot.
To recoup the loss of that ridiculously unwise decision, Disney now attempts to beg the attention of the Black community again. “Let’s redo The Little Mermaid with a Black girl.” “Let’s produce The Lion King for the third time.” “Let’s make them spend their money on our products by sprinkling some Black on a recycled story.”
We appreciate the effort, Disney, and we’ll support Ms. Bailey, but we’re not that stupid. And we don’t forgive you.
To the hateful idiots who cannot make room in their tiny minds for a Black mermaid, get over yourselves. Fortunately, imagination is bigger than ignorance. Whatever the human imagination can conceive is possible. My sister Traci was so obsessed with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy that she imagined herself as an Elf, wondering why she could never find a doll, action figure, or statuette of such a thing. I told her that fairies were part of Celtic mythology and that nobody White was going to help her with her fantasy. The only way she’d find a fairy with Black skin would be if she created it herself. That’s what we do.
As for me, I’ll be watching.
Watching to see if Disney is going to follow through with keeping Ms. Bailey in the role of Ariel, despite what will be a bigger backlash than the Black Panther debacle.
Watching to see if they will keep Ms. Bailey’s hair in those gorgeous, water-friendly locs. Wouldn’t it be a kick if they colored them red?
Watching to see what “Ariel” will look like in the next parade at Disney World. Will the torch be passed? Will there be two separate-but-equal mermaid princesses?
We shall see.