New Little Mermaid Faces Dehumanizing Controversey

By Evana Brenelus

She is Black. Deal with it.

Over the past week, there have been mixed feelings and comments on Disney’s new trailer for the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. Ariel will be played by Halle Bailey, a Black woman, who is a known actress and singer.

One thing I have learned in my experience as a Black woman on this planet and in this country is that racists hate to see Black people prosper, especially Black women. There is no reason for the race of a fictional character, a mermaid, to be a huge issue.

I have seen posts on social media where people renamed the movie to ‘The Little Slave’ or ‘Da Lil Mermaid.’ Besides the more than 1 million dislikes, what hurt me the most were the negative replies on the official Disney YouTube page when the trailer was first released. People were referring to Bailey as the N-Word, with or without the hard ‘r’, which dehumanizes her.

Some people say their issue is with the hair color, as apparently it is not as red as in the animated film. There is a difference between natural colors and a drawn image, so of course, the animated version would show a brighter hair color. Personally, I do not think they care about the shade of red as much as they just want something to complain about.

The most amusing part of this is the director of the film, Rob Marshall, saying he asked Bailey to audition for the role after seeing her perform live at a show. 

According to an article by Variety, Marshall described Bailey as a natural on screen. 

Honestly, I cannot blame him, her voice is angelic. Even Jodi Benson, the original Ariel, had only good comments about Bailey and her talents.

Where there is evil, good is always waiting on the other side. I have seen countless videos of little Black girls and Black boys praising the new Ariel, along with children of other races. Representation matters and that is something a lot of people will never understand because they have always had the upper hand in society.

Ariel’s skin color has nothing to do with the plot of the storyline. If people are truly upset about her being Black, how about they focus on Sebastian, the singing Caribbean crab, or Ursula, a purple half-woman, half-octopus. These are all fictional characters at the end of the day.

White people have been playing historically Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) roles for years and there was never this much outrage. Those were real people in real parts of history who were inaccurately represented.

For example, I have seen white men play Jesus Christ in movies repeatedly. There were many white people casted for The Birth of a Nation and they were put in Black face. Let us not forget the time Elizabeth Taylor, a white woman, played the role of Cleopatra. It never ends.

If a fictional character being Black or a woman of color frustrates you, maybe you need to dig deeper into who you are and work on yourself. I love being Black, I love seeing Black people prosper and I love seeing marginalized communities get the representation they deserve.

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