WASHINGTON – Millions of children are eagerly awaiting the release of Disney’s next princess movie. But the movie, The Princess and the Frog, might carry more significance than just family fun.
Like many princesses, Tiana must kiss a frog to find her prince. But this princess is obviously different.
“She’s a black princess,” said 4-year-old Tela McBee.
It’s the first time an African American has received Disney’s royal treatment. Some mothers say it already has taken a lot of time for Disney to create its first African American princess.
“There’s a widening spectrum of what we feel is beautiful and I think that’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said Tela’s mother, Tene McBee.
For these little princesses, African-American royalty is nothing new. Their mothers have filled their play rooms with books like Princess Grace, along with black Barbies and babies.
“You want that really to represent them and you want them to feel good about who they are and that, yes, they can be a princess, too,” said Tasha Fuller.
George Washington University Sociology Professor Ivy Ken says this new addition to the throne might just prove Disney has finally recognized the buying power of the black community.
“So their first and last decisions about what princess to release has to do with how much money they think it can make,” said Ivy Ken.
And while the princess is a welcome change, she says there’s more work to be done.
“If we just look at rates of discrimination, rates of employment and unemployment, levels of pay, health disparities — there are still a lot of ways black women are disadvantaged in this society,” said Ken.
Also problematic for some Disney fans, Tiana’s prince isn’t black. Some see it as a lost opportunity.
“Why is it not as important to have an African American prince as it is to have an African American princess?” asked parent Tasha Fuller.
“Our cultural images of black men in the savior role are so scarce. This seems like it may have been a good opportunity to bring such a character to the forefront,” said Ken.
It’s a character Disney has kept mum about. And until a black prince is created, the image of the black president, may have to be enough.
Although, the popularity of the president and first lady might seem like a driving force behind the movie, it’s actually been in the works for at least two years. In that time, there have been some changes after complaints from the community. For example, the princess’ name has been changed to Tiana from Maddy, after complaints that Maddy sounded too much like “mammy”.
The Princess and the Frog will be released December 11.
Article Source: ABC News
Early concept drawing of Princess Tiana