Disney World’s 50th anniversary event took place on Friday and brought us a HEAVENLY performance by our next Ariel, Halle Bailey. Watching this performance made the little black girl in me shine like she never did when I was younger.
We can see this as his Disney debut before his participation in Disney live action. The little Mermaid, and she did not disappoint. My Twitter account was obsessed with this performance all weekend (as it should have been). Not many Disney princesses can be Ariel AND sing a flawless version of one of Disney’s most famous songs, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.” Now I’m so excited about how amazing the Mermaid soundtrack will be. Her voice has that classic princess tone that has strength in her sweetness, and her presence was as bright and confident as it gets. Although there was so much behind her with the fireworks and the orchestra, she was the obvious center of attention. At that time, the castle in the background belonged to HER. Sarah previously wrote about How frustrating it was to see people complain about Halle being cast to be Ariel (the complaints were from racist people who were enraged that a black girl was a … mermaid). This performance made all the arguments even more invalid than they already were.
I used to see The little Mermaid on a VHS tape at least twice a day when I first put it in my hands. It was a heartwarming movie and I was very inspired by it. But when I look back, I also remember wishing I had colored eyes and luscious long hair, because the only example of elegance that I had been consuming was Ariel, among many other white princesses. He already wanted to be something else at the young age of four, and it doesn’t take an expert to know how damaging that can be in such important and formative years. As sad as it is, it is the honest truth that comes from the lack of representation in the media. Now that Halle has taken the lead for the live-action version, I can’t help but feel like this is a full-circle moment for people like me. Seeing her stand on a Disney stage and radiate princess energy in a way that I wish that little black girl in me had benefited so much from seeing me gives me hope. Glad to hear that today there will be a version of that for black girls.