Single Sisters Speak Out

The Modern Life of the Single Sister

Interracial Dating and Disney April 30, 2009

Filed under: Single Sisters On... — FlawedBeauty @ 12:49 am
Wherefore Art Thou?

Wherefore Art Thou?

Later this year, Disney plans to release its first animated musical featuring a black princess, ”The Princess and the Frog.” Even lthough Disney is taking a big, albeit late, step by creating its first black princess, the project hasn’t been without controversy. First, Disney changed the heroine’s name to Tiana from Maddy, a stereotypical slave name. Then, the producers changed her profession from chambermaid to restaurant entrepreneur. Now, people are up in arms because Princess Tiana’s love interest, Prince Naveen, looks white. He’s described as having olive-toned skin and a slight Spanish accent—because he’s voiced by Brazilian actor Bruno Campos. Could it be that Disney, which has a history of marginalizing blacks, is actually promoting interracial dating?

Blogger James Collier theorizes about Disney’s motives for making the prince non-black: “Disney does not want the future mothers of dwindling white America being imprinted so early in their lives with the notion of a black suitor.” Others think Disney has deemed black-on-black love as unmarketable to little white girls. Given Disney’s history of omitting blacks from its projects, these theories are plausible explanations. But I doubt Disney held meetings in which they plotted to keep blacks with blacks and whites with whites. Or am I naive?

When I wrote about “The Princess and the Frog” back in February, I did notice that the prince was an ambiguous Disney brown. You know, the brown color Disney uses when it wants the character to be brown, but not too brown. Since I couldn’t tell for sure what color he was, I did something that I did as a child when I played with my Barbies or watched “The Simpsons”—I made him whatever color I wanted him to be. And I think most children will do this while watching the movie.

Ultimately, interracial loving shouldn’t be an issue. His name is of Hindi and Indian origin. New Orleans, the setting for the movie-musical, has a lengthy history of interracial relationships. And actor Campoa could very well have a little black in him—since Brazil has the largest black population outside of Africa. The uproar over the prince’s perceived race is ridiculous. No one was upset when Pocahontas hooked up with Englishman John Smith because that had some basis in history. Well, some black women date outside their race. And if white women didn’t date black men from time to time, we wouldn’t have a President. But look at it this way: Disney already had an inter-species relationship in “The Little Mermaid,” so why not let Princess Tiana hook up with a prince who isn’t as brown as she is? [FOXNews.com]

So fellow bloggers, how do you feel about this topic?  Do you think it will hurt children?  Did you envision Disney characters as your own race or did you see them for who and what they were?   Do you think Disney is making a mistake?  Let me know people!

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22 Responses to “Interracial Dating and Disney”

  1. I believe that children don’t see color until we (the adults) show it to them.

    The uproar over the color of these Disney characters is completely ignorant. It displays how sensitive America really is- we are picking reasons to be in an uproar.

    Live and let live since no one really is of a pure race anyway.

  2. I don’t really see an issue, I didn’t even think of what color her love interest would be. I was more concerned about how messed up that firefly looked. Call me when Disney makes a movie about a married gay couple.

  3. thecomebackgirl Says:

    Come on..i remember reading about this a few months ago with black folks up in arms about the name. And I think there is obviously NO pleasing us. I know a few white kids boys and girls who are called maddie (from Madison/Madeleine etc)..Some of these issues are OUR problem. Im surprised people don’t have issues with Tiana…but i guess a three syllable “black name” “made up” in the early 90s is more accecptable. To me its just as if not more “sterotypical” but with a more modern slant.

    As for her job..chambermaid..those have seemed to be occupations of the past for female characters (if i can recall snow white, tinkerbell, and cinderella..were UNEMPLOYED) having no job would have probably set off a few people too.

    THIS IS FANTASY!!! why weren’t the black people who are complaining NOW up in arms 20 years ago???? Why didn’t they support the Whitney cinderella-esque movie MORE. Hollywood/Disney is a business if they don’t see viability in making a film there NOT going to make it for charity sake..its a BUSINESS. PERIOD. ONLY recently have we really seen the power in showing up at the box office.

    our presence dictates what and how movies get made…not just are shallow and stupid complaints.

  4. Cheekie Says:

    I’m actually happy that Disney is promoting the Interracial thang and not going the usual route of “white woman/black man” (though, they kinda already did an interracial romance in Pocahontas…it just wasn’t black/white). I guess the only thing to be concerned about is whether Disney will ever show a Black prince. Was the closest thing to a darker prince Aladdin (when he finally did become a prince)? I think that is more of a challenge than them having a Black princess. I mean the Black princess thing was more of an issue since princesses are usually the foreground in Disney fantasy movies, but I think they’d truly break the mold if they had a Black prince/Black princess story and not in the context of race relations…just a plain ol’ story about love just like they do with their creamy white princesses.

    I’m asking too much though, aint I? lol

  5. Peyso Says:

    Ppl make big deals out of everything. That’s all I have to say

  6. Britt Says:

    I am not buying into the post-racial society just yet. Color is a BIG deal. I am black, all day, every day. If childhood images are not important, why was the Clark doll study so impacting, in the 1950s and today? And it’s interesting that the interracial “promotion” comes with the “first black” princess. Just my thoughts.

  7. Whitney Says:

    I take huge offense to Disney (a known racist during his lifetime. That’s important to note) is handling this movie. If we can all agree that it’s important to have a Black Disney princess, then why is it too hard to see that she should exhibit Black love as well? And Nikki, children most definitely see color. We have eyes from birth. My cousin was three when she remarked that her skin and mine were like chocolate milk, but that her brother (who is much more fair-skinned)’s skin was different. Let’s all cut the crap and stop pretending like we’re living in a Disney movie. Blackness is so important, if not, then why is Obama’s presidency such a to-do. Color is only a non-issue for non-minorities.

  8. Whitney Says:

    Wow @ thecomebackgirl. We should just be grateful for whatever scraps we get, I guess?

  9. Whitney, I’m gonna have to beg to differ… children see two types, “little people,” and “big people.” They don’t even know about boys and girls until we teach them.

  10. Cheekie Says:

    Nicki – I agree that boys and girls are taught certain things, but I do wanna note that these movies are a major source of said lessons learned. They digest that mess subconciously. There’s a reason why little girls are watching Hannah Montana one minute and then asking their parents why can’t they get their hair to look like hers the next.

    For years I’ve been waiting for a Disney Princess that looked more like me. Little girls usually see these princesses and deem them beautiful go out and buy their dolls, but then are confused why they are so different from them. I think the closest thing I had in terms of pigmentation was Pocohontas, but then she wasn’t truly like me in terms of race/ethnicity, either.

  11. Peyso Says:

    Why are we expecting Disney to do something for black folk? Disney is not the altruistic purveyor of all moral and ethical lessons for children. You know why Disney made a black princess? B/c its gonna make money. This isnt a statement of how far we’ve come. This is about the dollars. They almost never have a prince as the main character and they knew that if they have a black main character black folk are gonna come out in droves. White folk (the people who spend the most money on Disney) arent interested in black love. There is still a large portion of people who may not have let their kids see this movie if it was black folk starring in it. So no we arent in a post racial society but we are in a post racist society and money makes the world go round.

  12. Peyso that comment was on point.

    “For years I’ve been waiting for a Disney Princess that looked more like me. Little girls usually see these princesses and deem them beautiful go out and buy their dolls, but then are confused why they are so different from them. I think the closest thing I had in terms of pigmentation was Pocohontas, but then she wasn’t truly like me in terms of race/ethnicity, either.”

    @Cheekie: And we’ll probably keep on waiting. But I have noticed that the Disney channel and Nickolodeon has put more children of all colors on. I just don’t think we should focus on what ‘they’ are not doing for us and do for ourselves.

    It is up to us to put our own black values into our children.

  13. Jada Says:

    Well if the Princess is black is it really too much to expect her suitor would be black as well. Why is there always a limit when it comes to black folk? Oh we can expose a lil blackness….but let’s not get crazy. It’s kind of sickening. I would love to see a black love story portrayed in a Disney movie. I was always the little girl looking for the dolls that looked like ME.

    And yes children do see color. I remember being in 1rst grade when this lil 2520 called me a nigger…and I knew EXACTLY what she meant by it, and I knew EXACTLY what I felt like doing about it too. I understood the negative connotation of it. So I don’t buy that kids aren’t aware of color.

  14. “And yes children do see color. I remember being in 1rst grade when this lil 2520 called me a nigger…and I knew EXACTLY what she meant by it, and I knew EXACTLY what I felt like doing about it too. I understood the negative connotation of it. So I don’t buy that kids aren’t aware of color.”

    But someone taught her that… that’s what I am saying. Kids don’t see that stuff until we start putting it into them. q

  15. Jada Says:

    @ Nicki…but eventually it is put in them. And usually at an early age so they are prolly more aware going into that theatre than not.

  16. Cheekie Says:

    “I just don’t think we should focus on what ‘they’ are not doing for us and do for ourselves.

    It is up to us to put our own black values into our children.”

    Actually this is more with my line of thinking, too. I actually don’t hold much weight on what “mainstream” provides, but I think for our kids who only have 2520-owned programming to look at, it’s just a small favor to ask. I truly think the only way we’re gonna get our stories told in the media is if we go the Tyler Perry route (sans cooniness) and build our own ish.

  17. “Actually this is more with my line of thinking, too. I actually don’t hold much weight on what “mainstream” provides, but I think for our kids who only have 2520-owned programming to look at, it’s just a small favor to ask. I truly think the only way we’re gonna get our stories told in the media is if we go the Tyler Perry route (sans cooniness) and build our own ish.”

    LMAO @ Coonish. Exactly, Cheekie.

    “@ Nicki…but eventually it is put in them.”

    Exactly!

  18. miss t-lee Says:

    I don’t do Disney…if I ever have children I doubt I will put them on to that foolishness.

  19. Bamer15 Says:

    Wow I almost feel intimidated, for the first time ever, in posting on here as I am a middle-aged white male.

    With that being said, I really liked ‘thecomebackgirls’ comments and was taken back a bit by ‘Whitneys’ comments. I also liked what ‘nicki’ had to say and agreed with ‘Peyso’.

    I think that this is more about the dollar bills than Disney actually wanting to make a film with black characters in it. I also agree with someone above about not looking towards Disney to find good teaching movies for our kids. Remember it is a business.

    Also I personally don’t see color in Disney films. I actually totally forgot Aladin had tan colored skin and not white or black until someone pointed it out.

    Because I am white do I notice less? Am I naive to this topic because of the color of my skin? I actually didn’t find this article to stir much inside of me up. I found it completely non-controversial, however it seems that almost everyone in here had a strong opinion one way or another.

    Also one last point is why is color a big deal? I saw like 3 people or more above say specifically that “color is a big deal”, and we are sitting here wondering why our children see color? C’mon.. we are reciprocating it obviously, it’s gotta start with the parents, we need to teach no color.

    Just my thoughts…

  20. aestar101 Says:

    I don’t care really. That is how America is going to be in the next few year so we better get over it.

  21. aestar101 Says:

    Maybe if the black man got up and got a job maybe there would be a black prince.

  22. aestar101 Says:

    Actually I know a guy who is black who looks legit exactly like the prince.
    I can see both sides of the arguement:

    I think it’s good that they are potraying interacial couples because for so long it has been taboo. And it’s better than the overly done black man/prissy white girl and angry black woman antagnist match up. I think it shows that black woman are apealing to people of other races, unlike how they are usually potrayed.

    At the same time I think that there should be a mainstream ptrayal of black love. Becasue all that is shown is the usual “baba mama drama welfare case situation” when there is a black couple. But I think that mainstream America (or white America) is not ready for that quite yet. There just getting used to Barrack snd Michelle.


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