Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” helps to promote diversity


Halle Bailey stars as Ariel.

Disney’s newest version of its classic tale “The Little Mermaid” is a groundbreaking moment for Black representation in media that deserves proper celebration. On September 9 of this year, Walt Disney Pictures premiered the official teaser trailer for its upcoming live-action rendition of “The Little Mermaid,” set to hit theaters on May 26, 2023. The short preview into the film reveals African American actress Halle Bailey portraying the beloved Disney princess, Ariel, as she sings a piece of “Part of Your World.”

Although Disney announced this casting decision back in 2019, this trailer is the first time fans are actually given a visual of Bailey in the role, rather than just imagining the racial change. Seeing the new mermaid who, in her original animated form, is white with vibrant red colored hair, being portrayed by a Black actress has reignited some of the backlash that started back in 2019. Some fans of the original film are criticizing Disney and the film’s director, Rob Marshall, for not staying true to the original fairy tale written by Hans Christian Anderson. Some haters cite nostalgia and respect for origin as their reasons for opposition, but it seems that these explanations are only a cover-up for racism.

Despite these narrow-minded objections, there is an overwhelming amount of support expressed on social media from Black creators emphasizing the importance of representation. Many moms have taken to TikTok to show videos of their young Black daughters reacting to the trailer. Filled with excitement and surprise, these young girls are finally seeing themselves represented in this kind of role.

This is not a negligible event. It is a valuable moment that is a huge milestone for the progression toward more Black representation. Little girls deserve to see themselves reflected in these kinds of movies; they deserve to believe that they are like the princesses on the screen.

Even in 2022, Black representation in the media is not where it should be, for it is still a pleasant surprise for Black individuals when they see these depictions. However, this decision by Disney is a step in the right direction.