The Princess and the frog has played. We got our princess, finally, though she was a frog for a good amount of time so I hear. There was a lot of talk about our first Disney princess. Folks weren’t too pleased with her. She had too many issues. But we loved her all the same.
The amount of energy that we black folks put into our first black Disney Princess got me thinking about what our childhood perceptions develop into when we watch all of these animated movies and cartoons and not see anyone black in the mix. It really does have a profound effect on our little black psyches. Just the reaction to the Princess and the Frog tells me this. When I was a kid, I watched my share of cartoons, and the Brady Bunch and the rest of them. I don’t really remember if I wondered where the black characters were when I was a kid.
All of this reminds me of going to the Black Business Expo that was held here in Oakland each year. Starting about twenty years ago, I went regularly just to see what new products and services my folks were offering in the entrepreneurial world. But one auspicious year when I went, I learned of a very interesting toy. As I was walking along perusing all of the products on display, there was one booth that was showcasing a black superhero action figure called Sun Man (melanated man) . The story of Sun Man came about because of a frustrated black mother who could find no black super hero action figures for her son. She created the Olmec Corporation and they got busy creating different lines of black dolls, including Sun Man and all of his friends and foes. I found an interesting blog about the issue of black dolls.
Sun Man was designed to look similar to all the other highly popular action figures of the time, such as Teen Aged Mutant Ninja Turtles, which my son was extremely fond of at the time. So there was Sun Man, in all of his dark wonder and glory, and I was looking at him with excitement, and preparing to purchase him for my own son, when a young brother, about 27 years old or so, which was my own age, came along and laid eyes on the dark beauty of Sun Man. The young brother exclaimed something in a loud voice and became extremely excited at the sight of that beautiful Sun Man doll with all of his rippling muscles! I actually watched the young brother revert to his boyhood as he admired the dark splendor that was SUN MAN in all of his melanated glory! I was happy for the brother! Never mind if the brother had a son of his own, he was rejoicing over this new found black Superhero for himself!
The Sun Man Superhero didn’t have a cartoon and movie and many products to create that desire that’s seems necessary for these kinds of toys, but Sun Man didn’t need all of that, really. That brother seemed to be making some kind of connection in his boyhood psyche about there finally being a Black Super Hero, SUN MAN! I halfway believe that if he could have, he would have sat on the floor at the Expo and started playing with Sun Man and begin coming to new conclusions that there ARE black superheros, and redreaming his possibilities, and coming up with new and better conclusions of who he is as a black man here in this USofA! It’s a beautiful thing to be able to rewrite your story and end up the winner in the end!!
I guess that is why the Princess and the Frog was so important to so many of us!