Let’s break it down, your fine black Majesty…

frog-princess Walt Disney’s first cartoon black princess is ready to jitterbug her way across the ballroom in The Princess and the Frog, set in jazz-era New Orleans. The movie won’t be released until Christmas, but what we do know is that Princess Tiana’s mother will be voiced by Oprah Winfrey and the movie will feature a Spanish prince and a toothless old firefly with a suspect Southern accent which echoes that of the ‘lazy’ Jamaican lobster from The Little Mermaid.

James C. Collier at Acting White covers the ‘black princess, tanned prince’ dilemma well (Is it that Disney thinks white girls can’t identify with Princess Tiana if the prince is black, or are they just anti black-on-black love? If the prince were say, blonde-haired and blue-eyed, white Southern wackos would surely campaign against the movie as a ‘multiculturalist’ conspiracy to breed the world brown…etc etc).

In any case, it will be interesting to watch the fireworks as the release date gets closer. And of course, the Disney reps will be close at hand flashing their gold-capped teeth and giving the old ‘Why not see the movie and make up your own mind’ line.

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian author and slam poet of Afro- Caribbean descent. Her short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the 2015 ABIA Award for Best Literary Fiction and the 2015 Indie Award for Best Debut Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her memoir, The Hate Race, her poetry collection Carrying the World, and her first children’s book, The Patchwork Bike, will be published by Hachette in late 2016.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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  1. This is slightly unrelated (sorry) but I just recently about Roald Dahl and his conception of the Oompa Loompas. It seems in the absence of negative or stereotypical depictions, there’s still a huge reluctance, especially in the US, to show blackness at all in these forms. Know anything about the ‘Spanish’ prince?

  2. Details about the ‘Spanish Prince’ are murky, but most reports say Prince Naveen of Maldonia (?) is actually voiced by a Brazilian actor. The main uproar seems to be that the villain is black, while Naveen is not (as black).

    Yeah, the Roald Dahl thing is bizarre…well, not really, I guess it’s normal, but it’s bizarre that it’s normal.

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