Seeing black and brown girls' reaction to the trailer of the new live action The Little Mermaid with the beautiful Halle Bailey cast as Ariel pricelessly and perfectly illustrates the necessity of representation for people of colour.
In a collection of TikTok videos mothers of little black girls captured their daughters’ reactions which were what seemed like a mixture of shock, excitement, and joy as they declared sentiments like “wow she’s brown like me”, “it’s me Mama!”, “she’s black like me” and ear-to-ear smiles decorated their little faces! With the media attention and public outpour this got it was clear that this was moving for many.
Today we are often over-saturated with representation, which is useful as an unconscious statement for inclusivity and diversity. Nevertheless, this is just symbolism, the legwork must continue – such as identifying, exposing, and challenging our own unconscious bias. Thus, representation is merely an introduction to diversity.
Embracing multiculturalism in our social interactions and daily lives is the real work. This extends to our thoughts and feelings, and how that materialises in our social interactions, peer groups and families. An example of the necessity of said labour is evidenced in the trailer for Disney's live-action remake of The Little Mermaid getting 1.5 million dislikes on YouTube in just two days - after actor Halle Bailey faced racist backlash over her Ariel casting.
People having feelings that their beloved fictional character Ariel should not be black as the original cartoon character is white; showcases the importance that in our practitioner role we are challenging the architecture of clients' thoughts, supporting them unpacking their bias and being honest with ourselves and challenging our own.
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