Actress Halle Bailey (NOT “Berry”) will be playing Ariel in Disney’s live action The Little Mermaid.
As you have likely heard by now, or can see from the pic, Bailey is black.
For those of you familiar with The Little Mermaid, that CARTOON character is obviously white.
I am a black man who will be 40 years old in a few days. Let me tell you some of what I’ve had to deal with in my life:
- Being followed in a store because I “looked suspicious”
- Being stopped by the police before becoming a teenager because I “matched the description” of someone else who committed a crime
- Being told to “Go Back to Africa!” by white kids and some adults who simply didn’t like me
- Being turned down for dates with white girls as they claimed their parents or grandparents would not approve of me due to my race
- Being viewed as ignorant or stupid by white people just because of my race. (By adults)
- Being jumped and told not to come to certain white neighborhoods (By adults)
- Being pulled over for no reason when no crime has been committed
- Being called “nigger” by those who think I had never heard it before
Let me tell you some of what I have to deal with now:
- The fear that police will shoot me for who the hell knows what reason
- White people calling the police on me for…existing
- Being told to “leave the country” if I don’t like it here, despite serving for 21 years in the military
- Being told to “Go Back to Africa!”
- Being called “nigger” for the thousandth time
- Living in a country with a racist president, as racist lawmakers support him
- Active KKK rearing their ugly heads throughout the country
- Being called everything in the book when I choose to exercise my right to Freedom of Speech
And the list goes on.
Before anyone comes on to try to give the “PULL YOURSELF BY THE BOOTSTRAPS AND STOP BLAMING EVERYONE FOR YOUR PROBLEMS!” tired pep talk, save it. Seriously…don’t do it. I am not the one.
First of all, I am blessed. Just because I say that I’ve experienced these issues doesn’t mean I lose sleep over them or wake up in the middle of the night with a cold sweat in thinking about them. They just happen. I’m not surprised by any of it anymore.
It’s laughable how some white folks have “easy” solutions to just about every problem a black person has to face, as they live their lives never ever experiencing any of these issues. Even saying that, some will mention that ONE time someone said or did something racist toward them and that alone means they’ve experienced all the struggles we have. Please.
So with all this being said and everything I’ve gone through in my life, as other black men and women have definitely experienced worse, what is this about again?
Disney choosing a black character to play a live-action cartoon character who happens to be white?
We have children being murdered in school shootings. Children dying at the border due to OUR negligence. White men going into random areas and mass shooting people because someone turned him down or because he was fired from some job. A racist president who spends more time on Twitter than doing his job. People of color being harassed for no good reason by both white citizens AND police. Homelessness. Poverty.
And you’re losing sleep over a Disney character? Because she’s being made black?
THIS is precisely what White Privilege is.
Cue all those who will come on and either deny it or plead ignorance. That doesn’t change the facts.
Then there are those who claim they have “never” heard anyone have a problem with this, or that it was totally made up. Of course, those are white folks as well.
I’ve seen a lot of people quick to play the “WHAT’S NEXT?” game, or they search for something involving a black character and saying things like, “SO YOU WOULD BE OKAY IF THEY WERE MADE WHITE, RIGHT?”
For example, they used Pocahontas.
Let’s see…Pocahontas’ story strictly involves her race and heritage. So that won’t work.
Then, they used Tiana (The Princess and the Frog, 2009)
Tiana’s story takes place in 1920’s New Orleans. Her race is part of her story also.
Not to mention, Disney has had white characters for more than 70 years. Tiana has only been around for 10.
Pocahontas is actually based on a real person.
Are you really THAT fragile?
At NO point in ANY Little Mermaid story is her being white any major part of the story itself.
To rush to other Disney characters of color without thinking first as to how their race plays a MUCH bigger role in their stories than in The Little Mermaid shows being ill-informed, tone deaf, and in many cases, just plain ignorant.
For me, the crying about this is almost along the lines of being at a cookout. As an adult, I’m sitting there and eating plate after plate after plate. Someone comes along and says that a particular child who has not yet eaten needs something to eat. So after I make another plate for myself, someone suggests that I give the child that latest plate, and I raise hell about it. Even though I have had PLENTY to eat (as white characters have been on PLENTY of Disney movies in more than 80 years or so) one comes along where they decide to cast a black character in place of one who happened to be white.
That would be ridiculous, right?
Of ALL the problems we have in this world right now, the color of a Disney cartoon character who isn’t even based on someone real should be nowhere on that list.
One person on a Facebook friend’s page even said that this is “further proof” that it is “not okay to be white in this country.” No joke.
Also, what is being said that Bailey was only chosen because she is being used as a “token,” that Beyoncé got her the job, and/or that she is only in that position to start controversy.
If you are someone who has a hard time believing a black person could earn something without being used as a “token,” someone else getting the job for her, or that she is only being used to start controversy, as she could not possibly be skilled enough on her own merit, that says a lot about you. Yeah, you hate Affirmative Action as though that’s the only way a black person could be successful at something.
But yes, please continue to tell us how much you “don’t see color,” along with pulling out random pictures of you with black people to tell us how much you are “not” racist. We surely haven’t figured that one out yet.