When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with Disney’s The Little Mermaid. So much so that when my mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, my answer was that I wanted to be a fairy-mermaid. At age seven, that was my goal in life. Looking back, I really just wanted the world to be my ocean, where I wore flowy hair, shimmery makeup, and ethereal clothing.
When I was seven the mainstream media didn’t even consider that a Black girl could be a mermaid (or a Disney princess, for that matter). Back then, cartoons and films portrayed mermaids using white female bodies. Thirty years later, people are outright angry at a Black actress portraying Ariel, which is really interesting, considering that she is a fictional character.
I am so thankful that my parents gave me Black fairy tale books as a child. Over the years I learned that there is an epic tradition of water women in African, Caribbean, Native American, and East Asian folklore. Motherfuckers are out here really trying to convince us that there can’t be a Black mermaid, and that is fake news!
This is why it means so much to so many black women and girls that Halle Bailey will portray Ariel in The Little Mermaid remake. We need actual video footage of a Black mermaid in movie history, so that future generations know that it is possible. Shouts out to Halle Bailey and her supporters, because the white-washing of mermaids needs to stop. Black mermaids are real, and she has locs!
Black women and girls ARE allowed to be mermaids. We ARE the ocean. There is NO limit to what we can be, say, or do. No one defines us but ourselves.