Why do we as black people get so emotional? eMERGE BLACK EXCELLENCE
Why do we as Black people get so emotional when the movie’s lead character is a positive hero/heroine? Disney recently released a mini trailer of the live-action film The Little Mermaid featuring Halle Bailey as Ariel. Halle is the sister and half of the popular singing duo Chloe x Halle. She is also scheduled to star in the 2023 movie adaptation of The Color Purple.
So why the tears of joy? The obvious reason is that it is a break from the daily barrage of negativity viewed daily in the media. Individuals who don’t live in our skin fail to realize the constant negative images viewed on the internet, streaming apps, movies, print, and other media formats unconsciously drain mental energy to the point where one can potentially question their own self-image. What does that look like? When children choose to play with white dolls instead of black dolls. When comments are made to Black females about your “natural hair” in the boardroom so you keep using that white crack (i.e. permanent relaxer) knowing it’s damaging your hair after extended use.
When you just don’t feel good about yourself and you can’t figure out why. But look closer for the real reasons. The emotional release can be attributed to at least two overlooked and extremely important factors. First, seeing a Black heroine in a Disney movie is validation that Black people are seen and helps us to feel that we are heard, and understood. Validation means our emotions are respected. It makes space for our emotions to exist and that those experiences are real, valued, and important.
But here is the real hidden jewel. For the average movie length of two hours and 15 minutes, children and their parents can imagine. The power of imagination is unquestionable. Imagination leads to creativity. As human beings, this is our superpower. It’s how new inventions are created and technology develops.
In the world of entertainment, I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for Queen Elizabeth who recently passed away at the age of 96 to wrap her mind around initially listening to War of The Worlds by English author H.G. Wells shared during 1938 radio programming by Orson Welles to the multiple streaming apps accessible today in the media. To go from having photographic images developed in a dark room to having video and photo capabilities on your mobile phone that instantly captures images. Individuals had to imagine these things first before becoming a reality.
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From a business perspective, it makes perfect sense for Disney to cater to consumers of your product given one-third of media consumers are black and brown people (Source: https://thedisinsider.com/2021/08/22/report-age-and-racial-demographics-of-disney-and-hulu-users-compared-to-all-streamers).
The power of imagination and creativity helps us to believe in our future. Mermaids may not be real but in the hero’s journey, the lead character always overcomes adversity to win in this game we call life. Experiencing this even if only through a movie gives us the space to visualize what’s possible for our own lives. The past does not equal our future. But if we don’t give our children opportunities to imagine, to experience a pattern interrupt in our daily living, to create, the past is doomed to repeat itself creating generational cycles of negativity. Let us not imagine and create from what we already know. Instead, give children and families a fighting chance to experience positive images in the media. The next Oprah Winfrey, Lisa Gelobter (creator of animation for GIFs), and Tyler Perry are at stake. c