Recently, Disney has been rapidly producing live-action remakes of its animated movies, and each remake has been met with excitement from those who remember the original movies from their childhoods. The announcement of the casting for the live-action remake of "The Little Mermaid," however, has drawn a great deal of controversy. Disney announced that Halle Bailey would be playing the lead role of Ariel. People were quick to point out that Halle Bailey is a black woman, while Ariel is white in the original animated film.
The main argument that has been made is that "The Little Mermaid" is a Danish fairy tale, therefore Ariel is Danish and should be white. I've written about how historical accuracy isn't the central issue of minority representation before, but I'd also like to point out that "The Little Mermaid" is a work of fiction anyway. There also isn't any reason why Ariel, in particular, has to be white. She comes from the ocean, not Denmark. With how large the ocean is, I would find it hard to believe that if mermaids existed, all of them would be white. (As a side note, I don't want to hear anyone arguing that Mulan is still Chinese in the live-action version. Mulan is the girl who saved China, so there's really no reason for her not to be Chinese.)
Of course, if we want to continue with the Danish argument, then why didn't anyone have a problem with Sebastian having a Jamaican accent? If the characters in "The Little Mermaid" have to be Danish, then Sebastian should've been Danish too. He certainly wouldn't have had that accent if he was. So why didn't Sebastian's accent receive the same backlash as Halle Bailey's casting? If I had to guess, it would be because Sebastian's a crab. It's because Sebastian isn't visibly black, but Halle Bailey as Ariel will be. Simply put, most of the people using this argument against Halle Bailey's casting probably don't want to see a black leading actress. They probably don't want to see any person of color in this leading role, not because they really believe the idea of a mermaid of color is some sort of appropriation, but because they just don't want to see people of color on their screens.
To everyone hiding behind the Danish story argument, try owning up to the real reason why you don't agree with Ariel's casting instead. Stop excusing yourself with "I'm not racist, but..." and ask yourself why seeing an actor of color instantly makes you think "forced diversity" when minorities are still underrepresented in Hollywood. Take a step back, think about how so many children idolized Ariel in the original "The Little Mermaid," and try to imagine what it might feel like for black children today to see someone who looks like them playing this role.