It’s great to see the upcoming Disney princesses looking out for one another, but one does wonder how long this will go on for. Ever since the first teaser trailer of The Little Mermaid was released, racist people have continued to use the hashtag #NotMyAriel, edited Halle’s face to make her look like a white woman, and tried to create theories as to why “historically” Ariel would not have been a Black woman. Why do we keep having to remind adults that mermaids aren’t real? Moreover, let’s not talk about faithfulness to the original: in the Hans Christian Andersen story, Ariel trades her voice for legs that hurt every time she walks, and the prince marries someone else and turns into seafoam because she wasn’t able to uphold her end of the bargain. So where do we go from here?
In an interview with Variety, Halle had spoken about the words of encouragement her grandparents gave her amongst the racist backlash of her casting. “It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, telling me, ‘You don’t understand what this is doing for us, for our community, for all the little Black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you,’” Halle told the outlet.
Thankfully Halle does have the support of her community. To drown out the voices of hate, people have been uploading videos on social media of Black children watching Halle’s teaser trailer for the first time. Some of these videos Halle has seen and commented on. Needless to say, representation matters.
In recent weeks Halle has received words of support from her sister Chloë, Tina Knowles Lawson (Beyonce’s mom), Trevor Noah, and now Rachel Zegler. Now would be an excellent time to remind people that mermaids are not real, crabs and fish don’t talk and there isn’t a sea witch in the form of an octopus. Racism may have stunted your imagination, but don’t make that Halle’s Bailey problem.