Watching Disney movies was a regular part of everyday life. My grandma had several shelves of VHS tapes of every Disney movie my cousins and I ever wanted to watch. We would watch for hours on end, never thinking about the real message behind the story. It wasn’t until I went back and watch Lady and the Tramp and realized how incredibly racially stereotypical the Siamese Cats really are. Their song begins with the sound of a gong and they sing about being from Siam in broken English.
After watching this and thinking about how I had never noticed the terrible racial profiling, I began to wonder which other movies were just as racist. Having done a little research, I found that there are some unnoticed racist moments.
1. Si and Am from the Lady and the Tramp.
Not only did they stereotypically sing in broken English, but they were also animated to fit every racial stereotype possible. From their slanted eyes to their lack of individuality, the amount of cultural profiling was shocking to say the least.
2. The crows from Dumbo.
In this movie, Dumbo comes across a group of crows who were voiced by black composer Hall Johnson and his all-black choir, but the ‘lead’ crow, ironically named Jim Crow after the racial segregation laws, was voiced by the white actor Cliff Edwards putting on his best “black” voice.
3. The indigenous people in Peter Pan.
What Makes the Red Man Red? Are you kidding?! The animations are literally red people! If you don’t see the problem here, just look at the lyrics. The native people are referred to as “Injuns”. Seriously?
4. The “Savages” in Pocahontas.
This movie is actually one of the most historically inaccurate. Not only are the people in the movie incredibly white washed, but Disney also took a violent, horrible time for Native Americans and turned it into a romantic story between what was actually a young teen and a thirty-something year old.
5. The entire movie Aladdin!
Almost every person in the movie is racial ambiguous. Because all of the people are incredibly white washed (Jasmine’s dad is white!), it is impossible to tell where in the world the story is told without the specific mention of the “Arabian Nights.”
6. The Song of the South…
This story is about a freed slave who is telling stories to white children. He still lives on the plantation that he used to be a slave on and seems to be living a happy life. SERIOUSLY WHO DECIDED THAT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?!?!
Though there are a lot of other examples, it is pretty obvious that Disney hasn’t been super racially conscious. While they have been strides made by Disney like Zootopia, it is important to remember that there is a history that cannot be ignored.