No Black Prince for Disney’s Tiana?
Disney has traveled a long road to move from its early caricatures of lazy, big-lipped, bug-eyed, zoot-suited blacks to Princess Tiana, an energetic, smart and in-charge heroine. But as the national release of The Princess and the Frog approaches, I join those who are disappointed that Disney chose not to give their first black princess a black prince.
Surely at some point in the brainstorming sessions, someone had to question the wisdom of Naveen, Tiana’s white love interest. The existence of interracial relationships on the screen does not offend me. The nonexistence of healthy, positive, inspiring black relationships offends me.
To object to a black princess and a white prince in Obama’s post-racial America upsets the sensibilities of some, and simply does not make sense to others. But pointing to the Obamas as proof that America has ample examples of black families and black love is as silly as it was to point to the Huxtables 20 years ago.
The unfortunate reality is that the big and small screens paint more pictures of black dysfunctional relationships than images of black couples falling and staying in healthy love. The Princess and the Frog is an excellent opportunity for the Mouse to add to the healthy images.
Much has been made of the improved self-esteem and personal empowerment that will come to black girls who now have a princess in their own image. To that point, black boys desperately need images of a dashing, courageous, smart black prince as much as black girls need images of a charming, courageous, smart black princess.
And yes, despite our displeasure at not having a black prince, my mama, my sister and I are breaking the bank this Christmas to buy my 2-year-old niece all manner of Princess Tiana merchandise. I suppose beggars can’t be choosy, after all.
Deana Bass is managing partner of CS Corporate, a public affairs firm with offices in Washington, D.C., and Wilmington, Del. Her occasional blog can be found here. You can also find Ms. Bass on Facebook and Twitter.