(Prince Naveen and Princess Tiana)
After years of flack from the African American community, in 2006, the Disney company saw fit to finally include an African American princess in its pantheon of animated royals – which in the past had representation from every other racial and ethnic group (Jasmine, Pocahontas, Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel, etc.)
In December of this year, the company is set to release 'The Princess and the Frog,' set in New Orleans and featuring Princess Tiana, voiced by actress Anika Noni Rose. Oprah Winfrey is voicing Eudora, Tiana's mother.
Oddly enough, though, Princess Tiana is black; her prince is not. That's right – even though there is a real-life black man in the highest office in the land with a black wife, Disney obviously doesn't think a black man is worthy of the title of prince. I guess Sasha and Malia and all the other little black girls out there should just shut up and be thankful to have something! Little black boys will have to wait another 20 years.
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Prince Naveen of Maldonia is voiced by a Brazilian actor, and his skin is ... tan. His hair and features are decidedly non-black. This has left many in the community shaking their head in befuddlement and even rage.
It's not like Disney isn't used to the controversy. Over the years, it has offended blacks, Jews, women's groups and some shade of everyone else. Appropriately, controversy has dogged the 'The Princess' since its inception. Originally, the black princess was named Maddy, a maid working for a white family set in 1920s New Orleans.
Both the name (which sounds eerily close to Mammy) and position made many take pause, so Maddy became Tiana, a more African American name. Even choosing New Orleans with its history of slavery and voodoo had some in an uproar. That toothless firefly that sounds like a slave (see video) isn't likely to convert many fans either.
Some, including Rose, think it's all good: "It's great and wonderful, and bigger even is being the first American princess," the Tony Award-winner told Black Voices. "They have chosen to give the world an American princess who looks like me. I really can't think of anything else that would be more exciting," she added.
I'm sure folks could come up with a couple.