A common occurrence when Hollywood is creating a film about a person of color is that they choose to cast someone for the role that is either white or extremely light-skinned.
We have all seen countless examples of this white-washing, but very few people ever speak out against it. Most people just accept that, for example, a Japanese character was being played by a white, American in 'Ghost in the Shell' (looking at you Scarlett Johansson), because we have been conditioned to believe that it is normal for the media to be flooded by white actors.
Recently, the news broke that Halle Bailey, one half of the musical, sister duo Chloe x Halle, would be playing Ariel in Disney's live-action adaption of the 'Little Mermaid.' Now, one would think since Hollywood has constantly cast white actors for the roles of characters that are people of color, then no one would have an issue with this, right? Well, actually, it made the internet so upset that #NotMyAriel was trending on Twitter.
So, why were so many people upset that Bailey is going to be Ariel? Here's the simple answer: They are racist.
The thought of having a black princess in a Disney live-action film, which happened for the first time in the '90s when Brandy played Cinderella, was infuriating to white people because they felt they were "lacking representation."
I even saw several white people claiming that they were looking forward to the "Little Mermaid" live-action because they wanted to finally see "ginger representation." Obviously, this demand is ridiculous because there are countless ginger actors already in films and television shows. These complaints are just a parody of the legitimate lack of representation of black and brown people in the media.
If I asked a white person to think of a white princess, they could potentially say Aurora, Snow White, Belle, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Merida, or Ariel.
If I were to ask a black person to think of a black princess, their choices would be Tiana, Cinderella because of Brandy, and now Ariel because of Bailey.
The princess options for black people are severely limited, but thanks to the 'Little Mermaid' live-action, there is going to be one more princess for young black girls to see that will make them feel represented. The only reason that anyone is mad about Bailey being cast as Ariel is that they are racists that want to make sure that white people continue to dominate the media.
The main point that white people are ignoring about the casting of Ariel is the fact that she is a fish. Her race is not a central part of her character. She can be played by a person of any race and the content of her story will stay exactly the same. The same cannot be said for every single Disney princess, such as Tiana.
There were many white people trying to make the argument that since Ariel is going to be played by a black girl, then Tiana should be played by a white girl. This is the absolute pinnacle of being delusional because Tiana's race is a huge part of her story. 'The Princess and the Frog' is set in New Orleans, which is a predominantly black city with a rich, black history. And the musical genres in the film include jazz, R&B, and blues, which are all genres that were started by black people.
By making Tiana white in a live-action adaptation of the 'Princess and the Frog,' you lose the entire meaning behind her character.
If Disney were to make every single white Disney princess a person of color in their live-action adaptations, I would be thrilled. It is about time that young black and brown girls are able to see themselves in the media and feel celebrated.