Disney's First African American Princess, Yay or Nay?

The Princess and the Frog is a new Disney Princess installment unlike any they have had before. This is the debut of Disney's first African American Princess who falls in love with an ethnically ambiguous Prince.

The Princess and the Frog IMDB
The Princess and the Frog Wikipedia

This movie, written by Rob Edwards, opens in limited release on Nov 25th in NY and LA.  I would like for you to take your children, sons, daughters, neices, nephews, cousins, godchildren, neighbors, youth groups, scouts, churches, afterschool groups, classes, meet ups, playgroups. 

There needs to be a positive dialogue and as parents and adults we really set the stage.  The children will enjoy it regardless of  the names , races or the sidekicks.  It is up to us to let them know that this is an animated  film and not real life. As for those of you who do not want to support this film because the princess spends most of the movie as a frog, look at it this way, Disney may be influenced in a positive way when they see the box office sales, to do more ethnically diverse animations.

Back in August 2008 there was a post on a site called Film School Rejects by Ashley Damma, titled The Princess and the Frog: Controversy or Innocence?    Ashley writes about the 'controversies' that had been raised with this Disney production.  The setting is New Orleans and the princess is African American. The 'Princess and the Frog' has also caught some flak for some of the supporting characters -- a crocodile sidekick, an Aunt who practices voodoo, a blues-singing lightning bug with missing teeth , all could easily be seen as stereotypical.

From the name of the movie, originally slated as The Frog Princess, and the lead character's name change from Maddie to Tiana, this movie has had lots of critique and may well have more after it's opening.  As a young girl in the era of  Barbie and the "Disney Princess" mold I am happy that Disney has made a real effort  to have a Princess that the African American little girl can relate to.  We've had Mulan, Jasmine and Pocahontas, now we can add Tiana to the list.  Will these issues detract from the movie itself? Will kids see any problems with it or will the adults make more of this than there really is?

What I found on Moviefone.com was a more recent article:
Does Disney's 'Princess and the Frog' Deserve the Controversy?
September 24, 2009
By: Kevin Polowy

In 2006, when Disney first announced they were finally bringing a black princess to the big screen with 'The Princess and the Frog,' it was cause for celebration -- long overdue, yet still worth celebrating.

The honeymoon didn't last long.

The first cries of foul came quickly, with critics bemoaning the lead character's announced name and occupation. She'd be a maid for a white family named ... Maddy. When her name and occupation were labeled demeaning (as AOL BlackVoices points out, the moniker bares close resemblance to the ethnic slur "Mammy"), Disney was quick to respond, renaming the heroine Tiana and recasting her as a chef.

Crisis averted.

Until early this year, anyway, when it was revealed that our groundbreaking African-American princess (voiced by Anika Noni Rose) would not in fact be falling in love with an African-American prince. It's unclear what ethnicity her dreamy Prince Naveen is exactly -- his first name is Indian, he's from the fictional land of Maldonia, and he's voiced by Brazilian actor Bruno Campos -- but he's certainly not black (nor white, for that matter, as reported in some camps).
Outrage ensued, with the popular refrain coming in question form, "We can have a black president in office, but not a black Disney prince?" (It's an interesting contrast to Hollywood's well-documented underrepresentation of black actresses in major roles,  -- just see the many times Will Smith, Denzel Washington and Eddie Murphy have been cast opposite white or Latina love interests.)

Are the criticisms warranted? Or are the reactions excessive? Depends on how you look it at. There are some reasonable questions being asked: In a film set in 1920s New Orleans, where most of the characters are black, why isn't the prince? Why make the princess clearly culturally definable, yet the prince ambiguous? After 70 years of white princes, doesn't the black community deserve a prince to call their own? (And no, we count neither Prince Akeem nor the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in this argument.)

But at the same time, shouldn't we credit Disney for diversifying their portfolio and promoting interracial relationships? Won't this scenario help teach our kids about racial tolerance? Aren't we all just overreacting here? After all, this is an animated movie for kids about people who transform into frogs; the main characters even spend most of their screen time as amphibians. So should race even be an issue here?

If you guys want to get together for the opening on Nov.25th at the Clearview Ziegfeld , 141 West 54th St we can go as a group during the limited release or when it is in theatres everywhere Dec.11. Follow the link for an invitation template.