So as #woke individuals, I am going to assume we all understand the problems with representation, sexism, racism etc. that Disney has. Yes they’ve made efforts and strides towards being more inclusive, but even those efforts are fraught with problems. It’s fantastic that there’s a black ‘princess’, and maybe I shouldn’t read too much into it when the little madam takes the wash cloth from the kitchen sink and says ‘Look mommy, I’m cleaning like Tiana.’ Nope, nothing to worry about there. Not at all Disney.
But none of the stereotypes and idiocy that occasionally comes out of the Disney machine can match this latest #DisneyFail. Absolutely nothing.
The movie Moana is due to come out soon (or has come out, I can’t keep up). Anyway, the Disney merchandising unit is in full swing and some brilliant marketer thought it would be a great idea to develop a brown skin Maui costume for kids.
Any quasi woke, reasonably astute person developing this product would think…ok, let’s create the costume using the traditional dress and maybe a few accessories (cultural appropriation? Yes, but nothing new for Disney).
But no, this is Disney and what’s point of doing something if it’s not going to cause major offence, so wait…light-bulb moment…let’s take it all the way and…wait for it… replicate Polynesian brown skin and literally let kids ‘wear another cultures skin’. (thanks @Karnythia for that on point quote)
Good job Disney. Nope, not offensive at all. Thankfully, someone helped them see the light and they pulled it from the shelves prior to Halloween. But, I can’t watch the trailer for the movie now without thinking of the costume and it’s taken all the joy out of seeing people of colour on the Disney screen again.
One of my beefs with Canada is our lack of preserving and teaching actual Canadian Black History. I guess I was ‘lucky’ to go to a school that did acknowledge black history month, not all do. But when it was taught, it was focused entirely on American black history. What I learned about black Canadian history I knew from one Canada Heritage Underground Railroad commercial.. Remember that? The melodramatic reenactment of slaves arriving in Canada? It positions Canada’s history as a place of freedom. We never know what came before (slavery in Canada) or what came after (persecution, starvation, segregation).
The Toronto Star posted an article a while ago, focusing on a push to have a Quebec cemetery where black slaves are buried recognized as a historical landmark. The site is actually called “N—-r Rock”, but what’s semantics. If the site does get recognized as a black history site, it would be one of the very few in Canada. There’s so much history here that we literally bury. Whether it is Freetown in Nova Scotia or the Civil Rights Movement in Montreal. Canadian students are really missing out on a rich history. The only thing most people think they know about black Canadian history is that there was no slavery in Canada and that is flat-out wrong!
For a long time, I couldn’t quite place my finger on what exactly bothered me about seeing a non-black women rocking cornrows or faux fros or… bantu knots. But watching my daughter out of the side of my eye, trying to twist her doll’s hair while I casually perused my Facebook feed, it hit me. There ― for what seemed like the umpteenth time ― was a Kardashian, appropriating a black hair style as her own.
When Khloe Kardashian or her stylist decided that it would be trendy to do her hair in bantu knots, they likely thought that she would look, cutting edge and chic if paired with her black choker and baggy Raiders t-shirt. continue reading