When you picture a mermaid, what goes through your head? A sparkling fin with a human torso, probably red hair, maybe green, an adorable look... And what color is her skin?
You probably have one image in mind: that of Ariel, the Disney mermaid, who goes on a voyage of discovery under and above water with the fish Flounder. Disney has just announced a new edition, this time not a cartoon. Ariel is played by a real person, Halle Bailey. Now that creates some confusion - and creates a lot of joy.
Halle Bailey is a young actress from the USA. And she is black*. Discussions immediately arose as to whether a mermaid could even be black. But: mermaids are mythical creatures, i.e. creatures that do not actually exist and originate from our imagination. Peacock bodies with human heads? Snakes that are also fish? No problem. And yet almost all film heroes have one thing in common: they are shown in white.
The new Ariel is more. She is a mermaid and promptly reaped a Candystorm. Instead of hatred like in the Shitstorm, there was a lot of applause and sweets (candies). On videos you can see amazed people watching the trailer: They beam, can hardly believe it, breathe an enthusiastic: "She's black!"
It's the first time a white heroine has been replaced by a black one. That feels different. As if the omnipotence of the white filter would finally end. So far he has often prevented black people, Asian and others people of colour could take on heroic roles. Ariel is coming to the big screen next summer. Maybe one day there will be a black Harry Potter or an Asian Peter Pan?
*Of course, there is no biological difference between white and black people. We're capitalizing black here to draw attention to black people's experiences of racism.