A Mermaid is Black … So What?!

Being judged in some kind of way by the color of your skin … that’s just another day for us black folks here in America. Just as it’s always been, racism is the dirty little secret of the past some don’t want to talk about let alone deal with. Here lately, we’re seeing just how much this historical issue is steadily weaved into our present-day lives. A fictional animated character recreated by Disney in 1989 is now being brought to life through motion picture in May of 2023. The only problem is, she’s black …

In the new version, the beloved main character Ariel is portrayed by rising singer and actress Halle Bailey who just so happens to be black. This has many emerging from their prejudiced hiding spaces since she was always known to be a young white girl with fiery red hair.

Let’s break down why being upset about a black mermaid is a problem:

  1. Mermaids Aren’t Real – now if this was a movie made about Taylor Swift and the actress was a black woman, I can definitely agree it would not make any sense at all. Considering this is a fictional character that originated from a fairy tale, mermaids can be any color, size or shape a person chooses to envision.
  2. It’s 2022 – Thankfully, it is more common to see people of color in mainstream roles or positions of political power. Since the Civil Rights Era 50 years ago, time has given us the ability to somewhat normalize diversity and inclusion in everyday life. 
  3. The “Original” Ariel is Totally Into It – As mentioned on a social media post, the 89’ voice of Ariel, Jodi Benson is super proud of Halle and said that she was happy to celebrate with her on such an amazing performance.
  4. You Don’t See Anything Wrong With People Being Upset – There is such a thing called cognitive mental bias. This exists on a conscious and unconscious level where it can lead one to believe that certain people are “less than” and/or trying to come and take things from them. Not being able to see that it is a problem, is part of the problem. 

Thinking that racism doesn’t exist or isn’t still a huge issue in today’s world is absolutely crazy. It’s a shame that children of all colors are still not able to see make-believe characters look differently without it causing such an uproar. I’m sure Disney purposely chose to cast her to be black, knowing what potential backlash they could receive. The emphasis shouldn’t be on the fact that her skin is caramel. Instead, it should be on making sure such a timeless classic has been remade for us to share with our own kids. 



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