Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Coal Black and the Seven Lil' Dudes ©

Do you really want Disney to include you?

You know things are bad when you have to petition the folks at Walt Disney to create representations of your people.

You already know how I feel about asinine emails but I had to comment on this one. I had an email forwarded to me that was, apparently, written by an African-American mother who, during a trip to Disney World, had to explain to her daughter why there weren’t any princesses who looked like her. She responded by saying, “Unfortunately, Disney has not created fairytales for children like you. In other words, there are no Princesses' of African-American descent." Imagine that. Anyway, this conclusion led Mom to contact Disney to find out why there aren’t any black princesses. According to the email, she managed to get a Disney representative on the phone who, if I can paraphrase, explained to her that the Chinese got Mulan, Native Americans got Pocahontas, folks from the Middle East got Jasmine from Aladdin, and Negroes got the Lion King. Frankly, that response should have told her all she needed to know. But Mom pressed on. She decided to start a petition to encourage Disney to create an “African-American fairytale.” In her words, “Disney, you hold the power to make life experiences become a reality to a melting pot world, which includes African Americans. Disney's motto is "We Make All Dreams Come True". Well Disney, my child and other children like her have a dream and through their Disney experience, they are depending on you to make it come true.”

Initially, I hoped that this was one of those routinely circulated fictitious emails meant to jolt the “black community” out of our perceived state of apathy. Not that I’m a fan of those, but I imagine that they’re created and disseminated based on some misguided attempt to create black solidarity. If this email is authentic, it begs the question: Have we failed our children so miserably that we need to ask Disney to help build their self-esteem by inventing black versions of their soulless, racist, and sexist cartoon characters? Do we really want our daughters to grow up emulating Princess Jasmine, whose only concern in Aladdin was choosing her own husband? Do we want to encourage our daughters to accept the insulting, whitewashed history of Disney’s Pocahontas? Do we want our daughters to reject their own culture and exalt another, like the Little Mermaid? Do we want our daughters to be empowered only to the degree that they can disobey their fathers and pursue unsanctioned romances like (take your pick)?

More to the point, it’s pretty goddamned sad that, after all we’ve done and been put through in this country we have to beg any corporation to create an African-American anything. At this late date, if I’m not already at the party, I don’t want an invitation.



At 12:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really think you're going overboard. Not all Disney films have a "racist and sexist" element to them. It's telling that you mention the film "Mulan" but don't include it in your later criticism. Maybe that's because the Mulan character doesn't easily fit in with your evaluations. Mulan is a female who fights men and wins. Easier to ignore that and trash Disney than to recognize that not everything fits so nicely into your argument.

At 9:14 PM , Anonymous Jason said...

"I really think you're going overboard. Not all Disney films have a "racist and sexist" element to them."

All the ones I've seen have. Those crows in Dumbo? Those monkeys in the Jungle Book? What about that line from Alladin "It's barbaric but hey its home". The Boy Thursday! WTF! You gotta have some blinders on not to see that shit, dawg! For real!

At 8:48 AM , Blogger Changeseeker said...

Good grief. I just found your blog. I think I'm in love!

And as far as Disney is concerned, Anonymous, it wasn't all that long ago African-Americans were not even allowed to perform at Disney's various sites--and there were no apologies offered about it. Repeat after me: "It isn't necessarily nice just because it's pretty."

At 9:40 AM , Anonymous Euro Cee said...

One thing to also point out here is Disney's long running theme: "Dead/missing/passive mother, and moronic father(figure) that doesn't understand the child's needs in life. Chaos to follow."

There are MANY of these damn Disney stories that follow this.

-Little Mermaid
-Beauty and the Beast
-Finding Nemo
-A Bug's Life
-Lilo and Stitch
-Swiss Family Robinson
-Parent Trap

I'm sure I could go on. It seems like these movies are to help empower kids, and to show that their parents don't always know what is best for them. Great lesson, huh?

As for black heroes/heroines, we all know Disney's racist past. I think SNL recently did an interesting cartoon skit that embelished on that past.

Link to Video

I really don't see myself taking my kids to Disney World/Land, ever. It would save time to just give Junior a stack of one dollar bills to flush down the toilet. "Watch them spin! WHEEEEE!!!"

At 1:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just searching the web for a back pack for my daughter that had a black character on it. Namely a princess. I have not found one, hell why would I have? My mother couldn't find one for me and I damn sure am not going to find one for my baby. Oh well. I have decided to design a black princess myself. And do my best to put it on a back pack. If not for her book bag I can always laminate the image on her school books and folder. I don't need anyone to lift up my baby's self esteem. Thats what she has me for.

At 12:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an African American mother of three daughters. I do not support Disney & its products. Why? because disney excludes African Americans from their stories. So, I just don't bother with them. If my girls want to see a disney movie, I let them go with friends so they can share some of the same common experiences as their peers. However, I will not spend money on an adult rate movie ticket because I am too aware of the sour deal disney offers the African American community. My babies are too sweet and innocent to realize any of this, so they sing the songs and smile and laugh. But I know. In many ways Disney is still in the old century. Nickelodeon provides our household with a reasonable amount of diverse characters for amusement.


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