Disney Finally Ready to Portray a Black Woman

This post, written by Garlin II, originally appeared on Brave New Films

Disney, the 800,000,000 pound gorilla of kids fantasy entertainment, announced that they are going forward with their plans to have their first Black princess in 2009's The Frog Princess.

Disney has had opportunities to show the uniqueness of non-white cultures in it's films, but has failed miserably at doing so in a respectful, non-stereotypical way (see Aladdin and Mulan). I have zero confidence that this film will be any different.

This is doubly dangerous given how Black women are portrayed in today's media. Bringing back up the Aunt Jemima images of old and coupling them today's over-sexualization of Black women and the racist indifference shown towards Black women sets the table for a pretty nasty racial stereotype feast.

I, like others, have mixed feelings about this. It's good for Black girls to be able to see Black girls/women as princesses/queens on the big screen. For people in general, it's great to see "positive images" of others, and this is especially true of minority and marginalized populations. I've yet to find a little girl that didn't want to be a princess (which is actually, ironically, also Disney's fault). Now little Black girls can say, "I want to be Princess Tiana."

Not too many good things in life come without negatives, and this is no different. Perhaps more important than Princess Tiana herself is they way that her environment and surrounding characters are presented. The film is to take place in segregated 1920s New Orleans at the height of the Jazz Age. The questions abound here:
* Will the segragtion be shown or ignored?
* Will the other Black characters be characters or caricatures?
* Will the images suggest that New Orleans and the segregated south are actually part of real American history?

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