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Impact of A Black Mermaid On Black Children

October 1, 2022

October 1, 2022

The movie Black Panther proved that there is something about seeing Black people dominate the big screen that excites our community. “Before Halle Bailey became The Little Mermaid, Shameik Alti Moore (Miles Morales) became Spiderman in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, said Dr. Corey Emmanuel of Omnimedia.” In both instances, the original characters were depicted as white.

These pivotal moments in mainstream media are important for Black girls and boys on a psychological level. We can add Star Wars’ Obi Wan Kenobi portrayal of Reva played by Moses Ingram, Game of Thrones’ House of Dragon wealthy character, Corlys Velaryon (as if a Black character can’t be wealthy), Lord of the Rings – Rings of Power cast of Black elves, dwarves, Harfoots, and humans, and Harry Potter casting a Black Hermione to the list of those movies with non-traditional Black characters that received racist backlash. Author JK Rowling has described people who criticized the casting of a Black actress as Hermione in the new Harry Potter play as “a bunch of racists.”

So many decades of not being represented as affirming main characters affect the psyche of adults and impact the self-worth and esteem of young children. Seeing people portraying positive characters, fictional or not,” who look like you is empowering and life-affirming kids.

Halle Bailey is cast as Disney’s The Little Mermaid in the new live-action movie, and she is a beautiful Black mermaid with vibrant red locs and an enchanting voice.

But with the announcement of the new role, along with the movie trailer, vitriol from racists surfaced to discredit her ability to play a fictional role all because of the color of Halle’s skin. The original Little Mermaid by Disney is a pale white woman on the top and a fish on the bottom. It’s the top half of a Black mermaid that racists have an a problem with. More than a million racist, prejudiced, and biased people disliked the live-action trailer all because of hate.

Many of the comments want to gaslight viewers by stating that it does an injustice to the original white Ariel, although the original movie is still available for viewing. Some asked, “What about gingers?” Halle’s portrayal of Ariel still rocks red hair. Does their racism blind them so much that they can’t see past the Black skin to see her red hair?

How many years have little Black children watched white children play main characters and accepted it as the way things are? But when the script is flipped, many white people have a problem with a Black character playing a fictional white icon. The public easily forgets that many Black characters throughout the history of Hollywood have been played by white characters, some even in blackface.

The best feel-good trend that came from the movie trailer is the reactions from little Black girls watching a Black mermaid that looks like them in a movie that is familiar.

The best feel-good trend that came from the movie trailer is the reactions from little Black girls watching a Black mermaid that looks like them in a movie that is familiar.

The reaction of young Black girls to the Little Mermaid trailer starring Halle Bailey is a tissue-moment. To see a compilation of the beautiful responses, click here. The link will take you to TikTok.

Times when a white person played a Black or brown character in a movie — Cleopatra that starred Elizabeth Taylor.
There are plenty of examples where white people played the role of Black people in entertainment.
You might be thinking that this is old history, but recently, Julia Roberts was considered to play the role of Harriet Tubman.

“The reaction to my little girls seeing Halle as the Little Mermaid was not only priceless to me as a mother but nostalgic and fulfilling as a Black woman,” Mario Richardson, CEO, and mother of two. “Growing up, seeing Black representation on TV was not really seen in mainstream television and film for me, so needless to say, when women like Brandy (who played Cinderella) and Anika Noni Rose (who played Princess Tiana), the little girl inside me screamed. It’s so important and empowering to see these classic characters remade into images our children can relate to and better appreciate. A little Black girl may not have known she could be part of Ariel’s world if she did not see Halle do it first.”

Black Mermaids are not new. In the Black culture, we’ve always had magical mermaids and the folklore stories accompanying them. There is Mami Wata from West Africa, who is half-woman and half-fish, and the Nommo people, who are amphibious beings that live in the water. “So, while I’m excited to see Halle Bailey use her incredible voice and talent for this role, I would also love to see a story about the African water goddess, Mami Wata, whose legend soothed and guided those in the Middle Passage, said Nerissa Street, an award-winning storyteller. Telling our own story isn’t just for Black children. It helps white and European students see the validity of our cultural myths, and everyone can see how similar and universal our experiences are.”

Books Featuring Black Mermaids

Ages 13+
Ages 8-12
Ages 5-8
Ages 4-8
Ages 2-10
Ages 3-10

The racism is so real that the anti-woke crowd got the hashtag #NotMyAriel trending, and they are even boycotting the movie “The Woman King,” which is an original African story based on a real Black queen. Come on! As for the Black community, we positively look forward to seeing Disney’s live-action rendition of this most beloved movie, The Little Mermaid.

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