Why Ariel should have stayed white


As y’all might know, Halle Bailey starred in the new Little Mermaid. Bailey’s acting was great, and the movie itself was pretty good as well. But there was one huge change in Ariel’s appearance that I couldn’t help but notice: she’s black.

In all media prior to this one, Ariel has been white, and in my opinion, Ariel should’ve been left as is. To change her race to black is kind of performative. This may sound controversial but hear me out and you might agree.

If you guys paid attention to people’s social commentary during the Black Lives Matter Movement, you’ve probably heard the term “performative activism” being bounced around.

The term basically means presenting as an ally to a cause for social brownie points, and not for the purpose of actually addressing the real issues at hand. One example of this would be when during BLM in 2020, instead of the government condemning police brutality by making changes in law, the Department of Public Works painted “Black Lives Matter” in big, yellow words on a street in D.C. This is one instance of performative activism, seeing as nothing was truly done to correct the racial injustice that prompted the BLM protests.

Other examples of this are when companies such as Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s redesigned their stereotypical logos after BLM. This did nothing to correct issues such as bail reform, or fundraising for Breonna Taylor and other victims.

With that being said, making Ariel black may be a bad, yet true attempt at correcting years of misrepresentation of black people in the media, but it comes across as Disney trying to easily appease the demands of the black community who regularly cry out for proper representation in films and television.

If Disney were truly trying to represent black people, then taking an already established character such as Ariel, whom we grew up seeing as white is taking the easy way out in my opinion. It’s almost like Disney is saying, “Well we made Ariel black, so just take what you can get,” when that’s not even what people want. Ariel’s backstory doesn’t change in any way to represent black culture or slightly confront racial issues in any way, therefore it’s a useless change.

To take an existing character and make her black, rather than create a new, black princess… It’s kind of weird. Maybe making Ariel black is just a misguided attempt at representation, but it comes off as performative.