Dec

11

A New Era Has Emerged…I Hope!

by Migdalia Rivera

“That’s my Mom.”

“She can’t be your Mom, she’s not brown!”

 Turning, slowly, he looks.

Could it be true, his eyes said, as he ran towards me. Before he even reached me, the words were slipping out of his mouth. “Am I adopted?”

“No, honey”, I said, “God makes Mommies in all shapes, sizes, and colors.”

He listened.

He heard.

Yet the pain in his eyes remained.

We live in a culturally diverse neighborhood, have friends and family of various ethnicities, and constantly see inter-racial families and children just as diverse as we are, yet it still affected my son. He reacted as he did because deep down inside, like most of us, he wants to feel he belongs, to feel like the people he loves or looks up to are just like him, especially at that age.

As a Mom, I was angry. I was angry at the doubt put into my son’s head and at the pain reflected in his eyes. The little girl who put doubt in my son’s mind, the many strangers who have stopped us, inquiring if he’s adopted, the many times I’ve been asked if I was a nanny/babysitter, and the people who  speak negatively about other cultures of which he is a part of, are just a few of the things we still encounter in this day and age. Does it surprise me? No. Change happens slowly. It is progressive. It starts at home but must be reinforced by the very media our children watch, play and use. For that reason, I applaud Disney for making “The Princess and the Frog”. Princess Tiana is Disney’s first African-American heroine in their long heritage of fairy tale animated features. It will change the world for many young girls. Its a start.

We now challenge Disney to create a movie about a Latina Princess, and a multi-cultural cast of main characters. This movie is a start but should not be the end. It must continue for our children.

Don’t you agree?

Below is a brief synopsis of “The Princess and the Frog”, which is showing in theaters nationwide.

Walt Disney Animation Studios presents the musical THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, an animated comedy set in the great city of New Orleans. From the creators of “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin” comes a modern twist on a classic tale, featuring a beautiful girl named Tiana (ANIKA NONI ROSE), a frog prince who desperately wants to be human again, and a fateful kiss that leads them both
on a hilarious adventure through the mystical bayous of Louisiana.THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG marks the return to hand-drawn animation from the revered team of John Musker and Ron Clements, with music by Oscar®-winning composer Randy Newman (“Monsters, Inc.,” “Cars,” “Toy Story”).

Click HERE to see the trailer.

Update: I removed the reference to “Asian princess” after the very helpful comments below. Thank you everyone for catching that and letting me know!

About the Author

Migdalia Rivera, also known as Ms. Latina in social media, is a single Latina mother of a teen, tween and 2 Australian Shepherds. When not blogging, or chasing after her energetic bunch, she connects influential bloggers with brands and PR agencies via her blogger network, Stiletto Media.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nik December 11, 2009 at 12:18 pm

I am glad to see Disney taking the next step, and yes definitely hope this will open the doors for more disney movies with diverse cultures in them!

2 Lisa December 11, 2009 at 12:30 pm

What an awful experience your son had to endure. People can be so cruel and not know they are being that way. My grandfather (from my Dad’s side) is dark-skinned so we have all shades in my family. I love it that way.

He’ll be a-ok with a mom like you. You’re guiding him the right way and I applaud you for that!

3 Melissa December 11, 2009 at 12:40 pm

I agree! I don’t have any children, but when I do they will be European, Native American, Caribbean and African-American and I hope one day they’ll be seeing people/characters who look like them.

4 Chanelle December 11, 2009 at 12:50 pm

I admire your desire to encourage Disney to embrace all diversities of princesses, but they have already been doing that. There is an Asian princess (Mulan), a middle eastern one (Jasmine), a Native American one (Pocohantas), and now a African-American one. I think it is wonderful that we have animators that want to share stories from around the world, but I feel that as a society we are lacking in what is really important. We have become more concerned that our children honor their skin color than their morals. We excuse all kinds of behavior, in our children and other adults, as long as they are defending their race, religion, or other personal choices. We have forgotten that what is really important is how we treat others. Are we kind to the down trodden? Do we feed the hungry? Do we clothe the naked? Do we honor our promises to family and friends? Those are the things that make true princesses. Those are the things that erase racism and prejudices. I personally wish and hope that Disney creates more movies that show these honorable traits, no matter what cultural background.

5 Chanelle December 11, 2009 at 1:00 pm

One more thing ~ Remember that those comments came from children. Children can’t comprehend all that they observe and many times express exactly what they see. They didn’t mean anything personal by their comments and weren’t trying to make fun or belittle anyone. They were just being innocent kids. How you respond to these situations is what will give your son confidence or not.

6 Sandra Hicks (hicksgirl93) December 11, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Wow, as a mother I understand how your heart may have felt when you looked into your son’s eyes. acceptance, diversity and understanding certainly is a work in progress. But is on it’s way. Continue to raise awareness and educate your boys. great post!

7 Ms. Latina December 11, 2009 at 1:51 pm

@Chanelle: You are correct in that we cannot respond to ignorance with anger. Anger will just breed the very same intolerance that we wish to eradicate! With understanding, and maturity, an adult knows and understands these concepts but a child does not. To bring change and awareness, the issue must be discussed and brought to the forefront while the child has no preconceived notions, which Disney is attempting to do with this movie.

As for the child who made the comment, I do not blame her, she is just a child. She may just have been stating the obvious, noting our colors the way you would note the color of a crayon in a box of Crayolas. I am, however, upset at the numerous adults who have approached my son and I to inquire if he was my biological son, if I was his nanny/babysitter, or who make ignorant and hurtful comments. Yet I choose to be pro-active instead of reactive because I understand that my reaction could feed into my son’s pain and thus amplify an already hurtful situation.

In the end, while his mind is young and receptive, I can and do empower him by surrounding him with people and products that will allow him to see that the world is wonderfully diverse. This will reinforce that he is wonderful and he is WHOLE. He is not half of any part (Puerto Rican and Jamaican), he is the cumulative whole of the best parts of each ethnicity fashioned in the image of God himself!

8 Chanelle December 11, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Amen, Ms. Latina!

9 Nik December 11, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Amen!

10 Katrina December 11, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Mulan is an asian princess!

11 Ms. Latina December 11, 2009 at 3:39 pm

@ Katrina: I completely forgot about Mulan and Aladdin when I wrote the post! Thank you and the others for bringing that to my attention!

As for Pocohantas hmmm that’s another storyline that has brought a lot of controversy.

12 Nikki @ Blasian Baby Notes December 11, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Goodness. I can say so much on this post but best thing to say is GREAT post. People who dont live in our world will not understand why u wrote what u wrote. That’s not important.

Whats important is that you DID write your thoughts as a mom of a biracial child. I also hope my child grows up seeing more movies that truly reflect the diverse world we live in =]

13 BK December 12, 2009 at 8:56 am

This reminds me of what my friend’s son went through. Her son is a special child and there were times when others … even adults were making fun of him. I cannot understand how insensitive people can get. But end of the day when he prays, he prays for these people, that one day they will eventually be good.

14 Janet F December 13, 2009 at 3:42 pm

I hope that we see many more movies with a multi-cultural cast of main characters. We are a multi-cultural country and each and every heritage should be seen and heard. I am looking forward to seeing The Princess and the Frog.

15 Karie January 13, 2010 at 10:23 am

What is sad is that these children noticed a difference. I find that very sad and would make me peeved that obviously their parents make some mention of differences in people for the children to spew this from their mouth. That or I am blessed with my son who is blind to so many cultural and ethnic differences as well as ability differences that he encounters. You are an inspiration woman to have your children embrace the colorful beauty of people and in life.

I also agree…..about time Disney created a culturally diverse princess….all of the other “princesses” were based off of semi-real figures or at least Pocahontas where Tiana seems to be her own person for the movie not based on a bedtime story princess or a historical woman.

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