The Black Kino Fist: Black life as depicted in film history

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

"A black Disney princess is welcome news. This character is long overdue. Of the eight existing Disney princesses, the majority have been white. In the past few decades Disney has worked on its multicultural efforts – resulting in the introduction of Native-American (Pocahontas), Arab (Jasmine) and Chinese (Mulan) princesses. But until now, there has never been a black one.
While on the surface Disney princesses may not seem like a big issue, the prevailing images of any culture do influence children's self-perceptions from a surprisingly young age. Furthermore, the perceptions held by children of colour of what constitutes attractiveness, beauty and positive qualities are often skewed by mainstream media images. Disney, with its powerful hold over generations of children, has certainly helped shape these perceptions.
Still, the creation of the black princess character has not been unproblematic for Disney. When it first announced the character, she was a chambermaid called Maddy who was working for a rich white woman. This upset many people who felt that not only was her position a demeaning stereotype, but that her name sounded too much like "mammy" – another black female stereotype that recalls the days of slavery and segregation.
The most controversial aspect of the movie, however, is the skin tone of Princess Tiana's lover. Although he is called Prince Naveen and voiced by a Brazilian actor, he looks white. Some bloggers are upset that Disney missed out on an opportunity to create a fairytale black couple. Indeed, that would have been a major first and timely, considering that the current president and first lady are black. It has also been argued that Disney is playing on age-old notions that a hero has to be a white man. (On the other hand, some have said that Tiana and Naveen make a great interracial couple.)
I'm not sure that Disney will ever be able to please everyone. But the introduction of Princess Tiana is still a great step and sends out a positive message. Anything that could help black children see themselves more positively has to end happily ever after."
- Lola Adesioye

Status: Available for purchase

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