Ariel is Black. Now, Get Over It.
In case you missed it, Disney announced last week that they cast Halle Bailey as Ariel in the upcoming live-action remake of Little Mermaid. She is a protégé of Queen B herself, Beyonce, along with her older sister Chloe. Halle will make a great Disney princess, because she is incredibly talented. Have you heard this angel sing?!
Instead of focusing on her talent and excellent casting, haters rushed to Twitter with their #NotMyAriel outrage, giving us proof once again of the widespread racism in America.
The rage was unbelievable, as many stated that their dreams have been shattered. Ariel is a fictional character. Let’s just stay right there for a minute….
Most people were elated by the announcement. Halle Bailey will have the opportunity to introduce herself to a new generation of Disney fans. The backlash from people was expected, because we live in a country where whiteness is the default, rewarding anyone who doesn’t fit into that mold is a perceived insult. Ironically, it feels like oppression.
In their small minds, Disney didn’t make a business decision based on talent, ability, and star power. Their automatic assumption is they chose a black actress because of political correctness, and the dreaded idea of diversity.
It’s important that Hollywood casts more non-white actors in leading roles. More importantly, Disney needs to expand their collection of mostly white princesses.
In 1997, people were skeptical about R&B singer and actress Brandy Norwood playing the role of Cinderella in the television movie. Brandy killed this role, alongside Whitney Houston as her Fairy Godmother, and a Filipino Prince Christopher. Little black girls were able to see themselves reflected in a fairy tale for the first time.
Keke Palmer became the first African-American Cinderella on Broadway in 2014. Recently, on Good Morning America, she spoke directly to Halle’s critics:
"What's up y'all, it's me, the black Cinderella," Palmer stated to viewers, staring directly into the camera. "And I know you're scared because Hollywood is making an effort to be more diverse in the people that they show on screen. But let me ask you this: Why can't a mermaid be black? Why is that too unrealistic for you -- because you do know she's friends with a talking crab, and I know you're not the sharpest people, but crabs can't talk. In fact, the entire thing is fiction!"
Palmer went on to explain that women of color have been pigeon-holed in certain roles throughout a vast majority of the fairytale franchise, as well as the entertainment industry as a whole. "And, since the beginning of the entertainment industry, the most roles for black women were that of the maid," Palmer said. "So it's about damn time we get to play the mermaid."
Disney network Freeform responded to Bailey’s casting by posting to Instagram, “Yes. The original author of ‘The Little Mermaid’ was Danish. Ariel...is a mermaid… But for the sake of argument, let’s say that Ariel, too, is Danish. Danish mermaids can be black because Danish *people* can be black.”
Well, Freeform is right. It’s a shame that in 2019 that statement needs to be made. However, this uproar over a fictional character is just too much and a useless waste of time. Okay Disney, we’ll wait to see who you cast as Ursula.