Disney Dreams of a White Pocahontas?

Disney’s suggestions about where folks of color belong in the American fairytale narrative are egregiously offensive.
The NAACP announced the nominees for their Image Awards last month, and lo and behold, the awards, which are dedicated to the “outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice,” nominated Angeline Jolie for her role as Mariane Pearl in A Mighty Heart. When I heard about this I laughed out loud. I find it pathetically comical. Is it a sign of desperation? Are the pickings of performances by actual women of color so spare the NAACP had to celebrate a white woman for her brownface turn as Afro-Cuban and Dutch Pearl? Or is it a victory? A sign of our supposed “post-race” times that the NAACP feels free to anoint white-as-bread Angelina Jolie as a woman of color?

But the NAACP’s not the only group with questionable decision-making. Check out these photos, just released by Disney as part of their 2008 “Year of a Million Dreams” campaign. They’re part of a slew of others taken by famed fashion photographer Annie Leibovitz depicting, according to Disney’s press release, “celebrities living out their fantasies by starring in Disney dream scenes.” Apparently, Jennifer Lopez and her husband Marc Anthony, both of Puerto Rican descent, wish they were Arab royalty. And Jessica Biel fancies herself as American Indian cultural broker Pocahontas.

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