This past summer, Disney announced that a live-action Little Mermaid is in the works. Halle Bailey, an African American actress and singer best known for her role on “Grown-ish,” was chosen for the coveted role of Ariel. Needless to say, this sparked debate, and #NotMyAriel quickly started trending on social media.
The University of Miami’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs did not let this go unaddressed. Instead, they made it the topic of this semester’s first Real Talk— a monthly dialogue series that provides an opportunity for students to engage in small group discussion on news, trending topics and issues that impact people of color.
On Wednesday, Sept. 11, a handful of students gathered to debate the question “Is Bailey our Ariel?”
Is tradition the argument? Many people firmly believe that Ariel is, was and always will be white.
Ashanti Tate, a freshman in UM’s nursing program, agreed, referencing “Princess and the Frog” and adding that in regards to Disney princesses, “race ties into who they are. If you changed them, it would have a big impact.”
Others applauded Disney for the bold move.
“It’s about representation,” said Kailyn Hayes, a freshman majoring in neuroscience agreed. “Black women are blowing up in media.”
The closing question was simple: “Was this a move forward or a money making move for Disney?”
“Disney is selling off nostalgia,” said sophomore Olbrine Thelusma.
Hayes added that minorities are “desensitized to being under represented,” and that even if it was a money move, the casting choice gives black girls another Disney role model.
Tate has a message for the people supporting #NotMyAriel and advocating for less diversity: “You can draw any line, but we’re going to pass it.”