By Rayiah Ross
I’m not going to make this long, because I feel like the memes all over social media have done a pretty good job of explaining my case already. As many of you know, Halle Bailey was cast as the starring role in the upcoming live action version of The Little Mermaid… and some people are taking it personally.
Originally I thought the controversy was parallel to Zendaya being casted as MJ in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but quickly the conversation took a turn for the worst. With the newest hashtag #NotMyAriel, many have taken it upon themselves to boycott the film until Disney decides to cast a white, blue eyed, red head that “fits” the original look. Not only are people so concerned about a fictional fish character and believe that Disney did not cast the role based off of talent and qualifications, but many are also insisting that black roles (such as Tiana from The Princess and The Frog) should be casted by white people to make up for the fact that they are not feeling represented enough.
Now I’ve talked about the importance of recognizing diversity and race bending before in my articles Normalizing African American Casts and 10 Characters Hollywood Cast as Different Races, but I guess I’ll explain it again considering the upset racists probably didn’t read them the first time. First of all, the entirety of The Little Mermaid revolves around talking fish, so stop taking it so personally. Black movies, like The Princess and the Frog, has a backstory of Tiana being a black woman in the 1920’s struggling to make a living and follow her dreams. Before her, the only time we saw a black princess was when Brandy played Cinderella in 1997.
Spoiler Alert: Ariel is a work of fiction. The only people that are allowed to oppose the casting of this film are real, red-headed, singing mermaids — and until we hear for them I recommend that everyone else sit down, shut up, and grab some popcorn.
Princess Tiana, on the other hand, is an actual representation of real life people. I don’t know many girls that have had their voices stolen from them by a sea witch, but I do know that there are plenty of young people of color that struggle to make a living.
It took 70 years for Disney to create a black princess, so white people don’t get to complain about not being recognized or being discriminated again. Millions of children are going to grow up and see a beautiful black woman as The Little Mermaid, and I think that is something we should all take pride in. Halle Bailey is an amazing actress, singer, and dancer, so if any of you have a problem with her playing this role just say you’re racist and go, but know that this movie is still coming out with or without your racist opinions on the internet.