You might have missed the headlines -- there is big news in the princess kingdom:
Pocahontas is no longer Native American.
Tiana is no longer African-American.
Mulan is no longer Asian.
At least that must be the case after the debacle over race that Disney finds itself right in the middle of. It is a controversy that touches every family, including mine, as I now face the unenviable and incredibly stupid task of trying to tell my girls I THOUGHT Disney's new princess Sofia was Latina, but I must have been wrong.
When she was first introduced days ago, the headlines hailed her arrival: "Meet Sofia, Disney's First Latina Princess." But the reports quickly changed: "Disney's Princess Sofia Not Latin Enough." And now, the final absurdity: "Disney: Princess Sofia Isn't Latina."
Sorry girls, Dad was wrong. I know a Disney executive producer was originally quoted online as saying Sofia was Latina. I believed Sofia was Latina. And since you are half Latina, and I am so proud of your mixed heritage, I thought it would be an incredible opportunity for you to have a princess like Sofia. But apparently I was wrong. What's that? Why the confusion? I'll let Disney's Nancy Kanter explain via this gem that she put on Sofia the First's Facebook page for millions of little kids and their parents to decipher:
Sofia is a fairytale girl who lives in a fairytale world. All our characters come from fantasy lands and may reflect elements of various cultures and ethnicities but none are meant to specifically represent those real world cultures.
Translation: Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana and any other princess who has been part of Disney's colorful melting pot of characters over the decades must not be who we thought they were. Even fans on Disney's own Facebook page are confused. Jenny wrote, "Yay, finally a princess with Hispanic roots." Risa wrote, "I look forward to watching the first Latina princess with my grandchildren."
The controversy smells of a board room full of people bowing to the pressure of focus groups and research, worried that the color and ethnicity of a princess might affect the bottom line at the cash register. It's wrong.
Let me tell you a story: I know a little princess named Alicia Sofia. She is 7. She has a mom who is Latina and a dad who isn't and she and her 4-year-old sister are both already starting to see the color lines in society. So we teach them that people come in all shapes and sizes and shades of skin color. No one is better than anyone else and we can take pride in celebrating everyone's culture. Alicia Sofia already understands race on a level that not many of us ever will. Not too long ago she told us, "Mommy is brown, Daddy is white and I'm pink." Maybe we ALL need to view the world through the rainbow glasses of our kids.
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