Op-Ed: The Little Mermaid backlash is whiteness at its peak
Halle Bailey as the Little Mermaid

Who knew that only white folks lived in FantasyLand? At least that’s the way it appears with all the unbelievable backlash from the new Disney movie, The Little Mermaid.

The live-action adaptation of the popular Disney princess film starring Grown-ish actress Halle Bailey, 22, as the iconic Ariel has garnered over 1.5 million dislikes on YouTube. It’s so bad that the video sharing platform disabled the dislike counter so people can’t see how many dislikes the trailer has garnered.

The highly anticipated trailer captured the hearts of many devoted Disney fans when it premiered, but almost immediately the hype surrounding the trailer was overshadowed by trolls who took to social media for online racial attacks.

Comments flooded social media like: “The Little Mermaid is white. Period.” And “Why would they mess up a classic in the name of diversity? Go get your own mermaid.”

Hold up, wait a minute. Let me put a dose of reality in it. THE LITTLE MERMAID ISN’T REAL, but white folks are losing their minds like she is.

There are calls for boycotting. Anti-Little Mermaid Facebook groups are popping up. One is even called Christians against The Little Mermaid. The hate inside that group is unreal. #WhatWouldJesusDo?

Representation matters

I remember when Disney unveiled The Princess and the Frog. Once I got over the fact that our first Black princess spent the majority of the movie as a frog, I was elated to have a Disney character that my little girls could relate to. The joy in their eyes as they watched Princess Tiana was priceless. So, I was happy to see that our next generation was getting a Disney character that looked like them.

It’s bad enough when white folks try to dominate Earth. But now they want to regulate imaginary worlds too.

Black girl joy over the movie is being seen all over social media, with little girls exclaiming “Her skin…it looks like mine” and “She has my hair!” Let’s focus on that joy and not the hate.

Mermaid police

Fans of the original 1989 classic argue that Ariel should remain white. They complain that Bailey’s hair in the trailer wasn’t red enough, her vocals were too soulful. It’s bad enough when white folks try to dominate Earth. But now they want to regulate imaginary worlds too. From decrying Black royalty to threatening actors for starring in movies like Star Wars, white people seem to believe in superheroes, fire-breathing dragons and witchcraft, but not diversity.

White folks have Snow White, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Mary and her little lambs….I could go on and on. But want to get mad because they don’t get yet another white fairytale character. Newsflash: This character can be any color the writer wants her to be. Just like Santa Claus, she’s not real and that means she’s not white.

At first, I was trying to find a young girl I could take to the movies, but now, I don’t need a kid to cover me. I’ll be front and center supporting this film. I hope you’ll join me and send a message to the haters that we can be just as loud in our support….and oh, yeah, The Little Mermaid isn’t real.

I’m a Houstonian (by way of Smackover, Arkansas). My most important job is being a wife to my amazing husband, mother to my three children, and daughter to my loving mother. I am the National Bestselling...