Ask Kcurly–Princess Tiana and Interracial Relationship

by kcurly on December 10, 2009

in Ask Kcurly,Curly cartoons,Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow (Random Hair Thoughts)

An email from Keah:

So Kcurly, I wanted to get your opinion on this. We are taking the kids to go see The Princess and the Frog this weekend, and I sent the trailer to my husband cause he hadn’t seen it. Now he emailed me back a valid question, Why do they have Tiana dating a white man? I never thought about it until he brought it up. That is rather interesting. Even though he is a rather tanned man, he is none the less white. So why is it the black princess can’t have a black prince??

Keah, thanks for the email. This has been a topic of discussion for awhile.

First, he’s not supposed to be white. Disney has said that he is Latino/Hispanic in origin. He does have a pronounced accent and kind of an olive skin tone. So, why is he not black? I have no idea.

Perhaps it was hard to work a black prince into the story that’s set in 1920-30s New Orleans. There certainly wouldn’t have been any African American princes walking around, but I suppose they could’ve made him an African prince of some sort.

Presenting a message of racial harmony could be another reason behind it. Though, we’ve had at least two other interracial Disney couples that I can think of in the past: Pocahontas and Cinderella (live version with Brandy).

I’m all for racial harmony. How could I not be with my son being biracial?  However, I’m also all for black love and that love being shown in a positive light. I think it would’ve behooved Disney to have had a Black prince to go along with their first Black princess. Make him tall and dashing, just like all of the other princes.

To top it off, the villain is a black man, some kind of voo-doo doctor that turns the “prince” into a frog in the first place.  If the voodoo doctor were the only black man in the movie, I’d be incredibly pissed off. However, we do have one saving grace, it seems: Tiana’s father.

He is attractive, a good father and husband, and …is probably in the movie for all of, say, 5 minutes. I suppose I should be happy that the father is present at all. If you’re a Disney freak like me, you know practically none of the princesses have both parents in the picture.

I saw an article claim that the reason this movie has a non-black prince is because it would officially make this a black film… and that Disney couldn’t tolerate that.

I can’t agree with this assumption. I mean, the princess is black. She’s the one that’s going to be on the backpacks, posters, and coloring books. Sure, the prince is important and all, but the princess is what makes the money, what draws the attention, what little girls aspire to imitate.

My overall feeling about the whole thing is this: I’m not sure!

It’s the first black Disney princess. It’s something I’ve always wanted and it brings a big smile to my face everytime I see her. It’s not going to be perfect. It’s definitely not going to make everyone happy. They already re-hauled the whole story after an outcry over the plot early on. Disney has come a long way from stories like Song of the South.

On the other hand, should we just take whatever bone is thrown to us. Ok, maybe that was a bit harsh, but I hope my point comes across. For now, I’m still excited. I will be seeing the movie this weekend and will keep an open mind until then.

I would love to hear everyone’s opinions on this one though. Leave me some comments!

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  • http://socialitedreams.wordpress.com vonnie

    I like that it’s interracial because I’m all for interracial couples and “mixing it up”. I’d like to hear his back story, why he’s a prince and where he’s from. It would have been cool to have an African prince sweep in for the story too, I’d have no issue with that at all. I’m just really glad that it came about at all, at this point and looks super cute. No ghetto neck twirling or anything crazy, thumbs up.

    I WILL say that the drunk country lightening bug gets on my nerves. Why does the animal sidekick have to be a torn wing, wino bug missing teeth? NOT cute…

    My main issue is that in a lot of the advertisements, they don’t even SHOW Tianna…it’s about the prince or they just show the bad guys. Why is it that in cinderella they show her in every ad, for pocohantas, mulan, little mermaid, etc all show the princess’ front and center, but for this one, i’ve seen ads that may have shown a 2 second bleep of her but can go the whole ad without really showing her. What’s up with THAT?? Not fair

  • Dream

    I don’t think it matters. Granted, my husband is white, but still! A beautiful black princess has met a man who loves her, what’s the problem? It’s Disney, of course they want to capitalize on a new black princess without isolating anyone. Let’s be honest, there would be a lot of angry white men and angry black women if Disney introduced an interracial couple that was a white princess and black prince. Seriously.

  • http://www.swarthydaisy.com Swarthy Daisy

    I am going to see the movie tomorrow. I do like the fact that Disney is featuring a Black princess. I also think it is okay that she is in love with a non-Black prince. We as Black women don’t need to put a limit on our love. That kind of thinking can leave us with the short end of the stick (non-married and non-loved). We all want a prince in our lives. As long as the princess is happy and the prince treats her well, we all should be happy and supportive of her. I am proud for little girls of color to have a princess in the media that they can relate to. Yes this movie can influence little girls to consider boys of other races, but that is okay. God made us all human. Hmm. It seems like the future of demographics in the US and the world for that matter will look completely different as a result. It’s an interesting change!

  • Sha

    Having seen the movie I feel that the presence of Black Love is extremely evident in the relationship Tiana has with her parents. Her father may not be in it much but, without spoiling it, his presence and influence is there. Honestly, when I was watching I didn’t even THINK anything of the Prince’s race! I think its wonderful enough that you’ll enjoy it regardless!

  • http://www.youtube.com/latia4u Latia4u

    Lets not even bring up the fact that the only way that disney can make a movie that has a black main character is if they are some sort of animal for 90% of the movie ^_^ did i just say that out loud!

  • Me

    Why must people always complain about everything. It’s a damn cartoon, get over it and stop frustrating yourself.

  • Rene

    I’m not familiar with the details of the film but I know that one of my professors from college (XULA) was working on the film with Disney and she is pro-Creole all the way ( I mean she seriously wrote her dissertation on Creole history-it was kind of scary)….so maybe the prince is merely a representation of a Creole (mixed race colored) man which during that time in N.O would have had wealth and considerable power….just throwing that out there …

  • just my take

    Latia4u, thanks for that comment – LOL!

    actually disney was toying with this idea for awhile. i’m still not clear on how i feel about it… but then again i havent been a big disney fan since i was about 10.

    i just hate disney’s heavy handed marketing. i see that they have a big campaign currently with carol’s daughter’s new products, of course geared toward kids.

    anyway, i just hope it is well done and can be enjoyable for all (ages and colors).

  • SDH

    I’m glad Rene posted her comment. I’m from south Louisiana and I thought he was black. To hear that he is not is very disappointing. I am not anti interracial love however we have so few opportunities to see ourselves in loving relationships with one another that I’m just let down. I think it is important for our little girls and boys to see us together not only as a family but also going through that process of falling in love. When was the last time we much less our children have seen that? My sister and I are going to see this movie tomorrow afternoon and I hope Disney will make this story as wonderful as all the others. Maybe one day they will think enough of us to tell our love story using people who look like us and not lions or some other nonhuman thing.

  • Moni

    I was also disappointed that the prince wasn’t black, NOT because I am against interracial relationships, but because I think that little black boys should also have a mainstream media representation for themselves. Why can’t black boys be the hero? The messages that the media, society, etc, sends black boys can be every bit as damaging as the messages that little black girls receive. Oh well, at least they have a real life hero in President Obama!

  • Ash

    It is truly hard to please everybody. I’m sure there’s something about any movie that we wish would have been a little different. Hopefully this will be the beginning of many Disney movies that feature positive black characters.

  • Zee

    I was really looking forward to seeing the Princess and The Frog and not only because the movie contained people of color but because I truly enjoy watching and taking my nephews to the movies. Especially Disney and Pixer ones. (We can’t wait for Toy Story 3 :D) But I will say it is very disappointing to know the main characters will be frogs for the majority of the movie :( ! I was looking for to watching “people” who look like me in action or should I say, in animation, interact in their “human” form. Disney already has loads of movies about animals (The Lion King, 101 Dalmatians, Bolt, Lady and the Tramp etc.,)! And I don’t have a problem with the interracial plot but I never thought the Prince was white to begin with. I mean, it is New Orleans (known for its interracial and biracial citizens) and his name is Naveen. I thought he was Mediterranean or Moroccan or something but not white. (But he does resemble the tall, dark and handsome heroes who are admittedly white in the other past disney hit films aka Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, etc.,). BUT I do agree with the other people who left comments that it would have been nice if the hero was an African American or an African Prince. I do think it is important for not only our little girls but our young little men to see a hero they can identify with! And I don’t agree with some of the comments that this animated movie is “just a damn cartoon” and we should complain about it! Even Disney itself is “marketing” this movie as a long time coming after 45 ( not sure about the years) years of animation, with the commercials showing the past Princes and Princesses of different cultures aka Mulan, Jasmine, etc. Sometimes if you don’t express your opinions, people won’t know what to think of you or where you stand on certain issues. Anyways, if you google The Princess and the Frog, there are lots of opinions about the interracial relationship between Tiana and Naveen, both positive and negative. Just wanted to put this out there, I can’t help but wonder if Disney has decided to release this movie at this particular time because of our current President of the United States. I mean, I’ve been hearing about Disney producing an animation with an African princess for some years now and now it is finally being shown. Also, I don’t remember a time when Disney released their movies back to back like they did this time: A Christmas Carol (Ebenezer Scrooge)- released in November & still showing, Old Dogs (John Travolta, Robin Williams)-now showing and The Princess and The Frog-now showing. Usually Disney likes to release their movies far apart to let them stand alone not virtually all at once like they did this time! I think they should have just waited and released The Princess and The Frog during the summer, so it could be shown alone by itself and away from the holiday pressures of other movies and shopping.

  • Pingback: The Princess and the Frog review

  • http://newlynatural.com kcurly

    I loved hearing everyone’s comments, thanks ladies.

  • ImAn BeLiOn

    Wow I loved everyones comment..I do think its strange that brandy was with an Asian dude and this princess is with some hispanic dude. I think the prince should have been black as well. Its only fair!! You don’t see no movies with a black prince..White, Asian, hispanic, but not black..You see black princesses. There will always be a line between the black and the whites. These cartoons are only shown to have impacts and to teach our children about noticing race. I recently thought about taking my “bi-racial” daughter..But after reading everyones comments and me understanding I decided not to..

  • CarolinaQueen

    Being of mixed descent myself (Native American/Caucasian), I am really happy to see Disney show a new generation of girls a positive role model princess. Imagine how frustrating it is to be from a tribal background and everyone thinks you are Pocohontas! That’s what I have to offer my daughter to look at. I don’t care what race you are (unless you are just 100% white), they get it wrong and there’s always a bit of the stereotypes we must fight. Still, it is progress. And remember what Disney does really DOESN’T reflect what real flesh-and-blood people think. I love diversity…it’s part of me and if Betty Crocker’s new look is any indication…it’s coming to everyone else, like it or not! I really think this will pave the way…in a good way…because the success of this movie will allow Disney maybe to start making movies with *male* role models of ALL colors for our sons to emulate. I can only hope!!

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