Commentary

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: American racism at its most pathetic

I don’t blame Black folk for thinking we’ve lost our minds. The recent noisy—and racist—outrage over the casting of a young African American actress as Ariel in the new live-action version of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” movie is proof positive

At times like this, all we can say is Jesus, take the wheel. And let’s make sure he’s the white Jesus we remember from the portraits hung in every children’s Sunday School room I recall while growing up white in the South. I remember his flowing light brown locks and rosy cheeks looking down on us as we colored pictures of a fair-haired David launching his slingshot at the deeply tanned Goliath. Yeah. That stuff starts early.

“I don’t mean to be rude, but Ariel is white,” wrote one anonymous whiner, taking Disney to task in an online forum.

“Now I’m super upset!” was another’s brief comment.

“I was really looking forward to this movie and now I’m bummed.”

You get the gist of it. Super upset and bummed white America can’t even right now.

Fortunately, there were a few jewels amid the goat poo, including this: “I’m so pissed they didn’t cast someone who has a natural mermaid tail.”

Right? If you’re going to lose your mind and scatter bigoted bon mots all over the Twitterverse, let’s imagine how the mermaids must feel. Except they’re mythical. So, to put this in perspective: A mythical creature (there’s no such thing as mermaids in real life; I know, I’m soooo bummed) will be played by someone with black hair instead of red hair like the CARTOON version.

Let’s focus on that word for a sec. Cartoon. Dumb white people ( I can say that because I have often been one) surely understand this is all make-believe, right?

This just in: You almost never see a tuxedo clad mouse leading an orchestra in real life. Ditto a desert creature who has clearly overdosed on Adderall and (meep meep) spends his days trying to outrun a ravenous rabbit that thinks it’s a coyote.

My daughter was besotted with Ariel when she was little, which was fine with Duh Hubby and me although, over a glass of wine enjoyed while she watched the movie for the eleventybillionth time, we’d joke the movie’s premise was a bit shaky: A very young woman runs away from home and throws herself at a handsome prince, swapping her beautiful singing voice for the ability to walk with legs so the prince wouldn’t think she was weird and maybe they could bike together and stuff.

Yeah, there’s a lot to unpack there. Ariel wasn’t what you’d call a strong role model for young women but it’s fantasy. I have almost never encountered an overprotective crab/manny with a faux British accent. The “B-b-b-b-ut Ariel’s white” foolishness is racist, plain and simple. Hard to argue “purity” of storyline when your “heroine” is a man-crazy runaway teen with wretched judgment. Ariel’s skin color should be the least of y’alls’ worries.

Celia Rivenbark is a New York Times bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.

One Comment


  1. Jim Lee

    July 20, 2019 at 9:58 am

    Sebastian the crab is Jamaican. Therefore he IS black. Where is this ocean, anyway?

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