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The Power of Princess Tiana

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This new Disney movie -- along with grossing millions, I'm sure -- has the ability to break down some serious color lines in our society. All I can say is, finally.

disneys the princess and the frog

Ashlee Holland: Tuesday evening, I had the absolute pleasure of joining the NAACP and my son, Joseph, to screen Walt Disney's new animated film, "The Princess and the Frog." The El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., was the venue, and suspense was running wild through the theater seats. Looking around at the crowd of mostly moms with their wide-eyed children, I could feel that this was NOT just another kids' movie. It was the first time in 17 years -- since Jasmine in Aladdin -- that a princess has been the focal point of an animated Disney movie. This was also the VERY first time in history that a Disney princess was black.

The movie did not disappoint in any way. It was absolutely breathtaking. The attention to detail and to the culture of New Orleans was phenomenal, to say the least. The music was originally delightful, and the supporting characters held their own wonderfully. Like Cinderella's glass slipper, the story line was a perfect fit. I don't want to spoil it, so ... moving on.

Princess Tiana finally came into the light, and what a radiant light she had! Then again, what else would you expect a Disney princess to be?

Tiana was undeniably stunning -- but many people would have never imagined that, finally, a princess can be undeniably BLACK. Tiana dolls are flying off the shelves. Little girls from all different backgrounds and races are in love with Tiana! Why? "Tiana is a beautiful princess!" shouted one little girl in the theater, who also happened to be white. Again, our children are the ones teaching us about being "color-blind." Beauty is Beauty.

Does this mean we will see Caucasian little girls carrying around little African-American dolls? I hope so, but what will be the reaction from the rest of the world? Ethnic girls have always dressed up as mostly Caucasian princesses. Will we find moms looking for more textured wigs so that their daughters can dress up to look like Tiana? Again ... I HOPE SO! This is another way we can start breaking down stereotypes of what is considered beautiful. Our little girls just want to be princesses, so let's let them spin around and dream in color!

Elisabeth Hasselbeck of "The View" recently bought her daughter the Tiana doll, and went on to say it was her daughter's "favorite doll right now." She continued to say that while some people were excited about the new movie, she also was the recipient of weird looks while her "white" daughter played with a "black" doll. "I saw a couple of looks that made me uncomfortable ..." Elisabeth stated. She shared her experience with Whoopi Goldberg, and admitted she finally understood the "weirdness that follows the look" that minorities often express feeling.

I am sure that Elisabeth will not be the only parent getting these reactions, good and bad. I can only hope that these small steps we are taking in our culture will continue to allow people to openly express their concerns about and views on race and racism.

After seeing this film, I hope that EVERY parent of a little girl will go out and buy a Tiana doll. This princess is worth aspiring to. Let your daughter carry her around proudly because she is not only gorgeous, she is also intelligent, hard-working, and focused. She has a dream and a vision that is NOT handed to her because she is beautiful. Tiana is a fighter -- and THAT is how she gets her Happily Ever After!



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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Barb December 1, 2009, 9:22 AM

Since birth, I’ve searched out multi-racial dolls for my 6-year-old in an attempt to show her that the world is varied and beautiful. It helps to have a new, popular princess to spread that word, and, seriously, it’s about time!

Stefanie December 1, 2009, 3:41 PM

As proud as I am of Disney breaking barriers of race. I don’t understand why, if they decided to have a black princess, didn’t they choose a story of African origins? All they did was take a story about a white girl, made her black, and New Orleans was the new place of origins. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say they shouldn’t have bothered. However, they could have taken a little more initiative. What about the story of the Cloud Princess that Nelson Mandela published in a book of favorite folktales? The other princesses, including the Princess and the Frog, were originally folktales from Europe. Do you see what I mean?
The Cloud Princess is a wonderful story, and would have worked beautifully.

Roma December 3, 2009, 4:04 AM

I agree about getting our children dolls of all races. My daughter has the loving family dolls in white and black, and tons of asian, mexican, and other-raced dolls. The unfortunate thing is that I can definitely see my daughter dressing up as Tiana, and the amount of people who would equate this to blackface in my community is staggering. If I buy her a wig, or use that spray to make her hair black, and get her the outfit and a stuffed frog, I know too many people would think of this as racist, even though it’s obviously the complete opposite.

Sofia December 3, 2009, 9:28 PM

This was such a lovely post. And just to throw in my own little anecdote—my little sister Abby, who is 7, is about to explode she’s so excited for this movie. She’ll definitely be one of those little caucasian girls toting around a Tiana doll—she just sees a beautiful princess in a great new movie. And honestly, I think I’m just as excited for it as she is!

Alice December 4, 2009, 11:12 AM

Well, I got two things to say. I do THANK Disney for ‘opening the door ‘ to the possibility of a movie with a Black protagonist!
And second, for those that want to make a change and bring forth a movie with a Black Protagonist here is the answer.
There is an African-American children’s fantasy novel written by the African-American children’s author. V.C. Stone. The book is NANDI & the Renewal of Serenity! The Star/Protagonist Nandi is Black; not white girl feature with brown flesh. The novel is sold on Amazon.com. Its setting starts in ancient AFRICA. There is an excerpt of the book on http://www.vcstonebooks.com.
Bombard the emails of Oprah since she did a voiceover in the movie and Disney, Lion Gate, anyone in the industry and get this GREAT AFRICAN-AMERICAN CHILDREN”S FANTASY NOVEL ON THE BIG SCREEN! Stop complaining and

Candy December 8, 2009, 11:17 AM

Stefanie - I think the reason they used an American black girl rather than an African girl is mainly the culture. Black and African are two totally different things, as far a cry as British from German. Sure they may have some of the same bloodlines, but a black American is not going to be purely of African descent; there’s going to be some element of white, Native American, and more than likely French and Danish, especially if you’re from the area the story takes place. The Princess in this movie is probably closer to Creole than “full” black. I fully applaud the use of an American girl rather than African, simply because our daughters (who am I kidding? Us too) can relate to her much better.

jwt December 13, 2009, 7:47 PM

DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE!
The ad I saw showed a croc and a frog, I thought the princess was a crocodile
Instead it was a ….black woman, false advertising
And the prince is ….arabic or muslim
This is Obama multi ethnic brainwashing again to innocent KIDS now
i’m scared my kid will rememeber the movie
Dont go back home like a loser with a bad taste in your mouth, ask
your money back like me! Go spend it on Avatar


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