Interracial Dating In “The Princess And The Frog” — So What?

Later this year, Disney plans to release its first animated musical featuring a black princess, “The Princess and the Frog.” Even lthough Disney is taking a big, albeit late, step by creating its first black princess, the project hasn’t been without controversy. First, Disney changed the heroine’s name to Tiana from Maddy, a stereotypical slave name. Then, the producers changed her profession from chambermaid to restaurant entrepreneur. Now, people are up in arms because Princess Tiana’s love interest, Prince Naveen, looks white. He’s described as having olive-toned skin and a slight Spanish accent — because he’s voiced by Brazilian actor Bruno Campos. Could it be that Disney, which has a history of marginalizing blacks, is actually promoting interracial dating? Blogger James Collier theorizes about Disney’s motives for making the prince non-black: “Disney does not want the future mothers of dwindling white America being imprinted so early in their lives with the notion of a black suitor.” Others think Disney has deemed black-on-black love as unmarketable to little white girls. Given Disney’s history of omitting blacks from its projects, these theories are plausible explanations. But I doubt Disney held meetings in which they plotted to keep blacks with blacks and whites with whites. Or am I naive?

When I wrote about “The Princess and the Frog” back in February, I did notice that the prince was an ambiguous Disney brown. You know, the brown color Disney uses when it wants the character to be brown, but not too brown. Since I couldn’t tell for sure what color he was, I did something that I did as a child when I played with my Barbies or watched “The Simpsons” — I made him whatever color I wanted him to be. And I think most children will do this while watching the movie.

Ultimately, interracial loving shouldn’t be an issue. His name is of Hindi and Indian origin. New Orleans, the setting for the movie-musical, has a lengthy history of interracial relationships. And actor Campoa could very well have a little black in him — since Brazil has the largest black population outside of Africa. The uproar over the prince’s perceived race is ridiculous. No one was upset when Pocahontas hooked up with Englishman John Smith because that had some basis in history. Well, some black women date outside their race. And if white women didn’t date black men from time to time, we wouldn’t have a President. But look at it this way: Disney already had an inter-species relationship in “The Little Mermaid,” so why not let Princess Tiana hook up with a prince who isn’t as brown as she is? []